West Ham praised by Boris Johnson over Olympic Stadium move
15:30 12 November 2015
The London Mayor insists West Ham will be part of a lasting legacy at the Queen Elizabeth Park
West Ham have received stinging criticism for the cash they have paid to help convert the Olympic Stadium into their new home for next season, but London Mayor Boris Johnson has nothing but praise for their efforts.
Speaking at a special event at the stadium to mark 10 years since London was awarded the Olympics, the Mayor was keen to stress that West Ham are delivering the legacy that London 2012 promised.
West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady, manager Slaven Bilic and club captain Mark Noble were among the guests at the event, where the Mayor perhaps predictably waxed lyrical about the part the Hammers have played.
“West Ham have been brilliant and they’re an integral part of delivering a massive social and economic legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games here in east London,” he said.
“We’re working with them on all sorts of projects for literacy, for helping young kids, apprenticeships in the neighbourhood and really driving aspiration in this part of London.”
The conversion of the stadium is an ongoing exercise, but five games were played there in the Rugby World Cup as well as a Rugby League international and now that has ended, the work to complete the stadium has now begun again.
“It’s changing so fast,” continued Johnson. “You can see the magic happening already and so I want to thank Karren Brady and everybody at West Ham for their participation.
“This is now a lasting legacy, not just for West Ham but for the nation, this is an asset of national importance now.”
The Mayor, the London Legacy Development Corporation and West Ham have all been criticised for the deal that was struck with the club to allow the stadium to be converted into a football stadium with retractable seating over the athletics track, an extended roof and new floodlights, but Johnson insists that it will be a great arena for the whole of London.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “I think people will look back, everyone involved with West Ham, everyone who supports West Ham will be very proud that they are part of something that is the biggest economic and social regeneration project anywhere in Europe.”
Speaking on behalf of the club, Brady told the 300 assembled guests that they were proud to be moving into the stadium.
“At West Ham, we have been wholeheartedly committed to playing our part in delivering the 2012 Games legacy from the very start,” she said.
“We are now looking forward to helping to create a thriving Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London’s newest must-visit destination and cultural hub.
“It will be for business, for education, for arts, for families and for football, It will be a true sporting legacy in East London and beyond.”
Whatever your views on the deal that West Ham struck for the stadium, there is little doubt that they have helped to turn it into one of the top football stadiums in the Premier League.
There was certainly no real alternative which would have met the legacy and Hammers fans will wait with baited breath to see that first match there in August 2016.