West Ham preferred bidders for Olympic Stadium
West Ham United have been announced as the first ranked bidder for the Olympic Stadium, but plans are underway for a non-football option for the venue should the team not be able to meet conditions.
It comes a year after the club’s initial successful bid was thrown out in a legal wrangle.
The announcement was made by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is also chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the body in charge of the legacy of the Olympic Park.
The LLDC’s board unanimously made the decision in favour of the Barclays Premier League club ahead of rivals from Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One, UCFB College of Football Business and Leyton Orient.
Mr Johnson said: “We had four good bids, as everybody knows. The bid that has been ranked top is West Ham United. I am very pleased about that.
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“It will, if it goes through, mean a football legacy for the Stadium but there is still a lot of negotiation to go on between the LLDC and West Ham United about the terms of the deal.”
He added afterwards: “My position on the future of the Stadium remains what it has always been: that we can secure a terrific future for this much loved and iconic venue with or without a football team playing there.
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“I hope the detailed negotiations with West Ham can succeed, but I am determined that any deal should protect the interests of taxpayers who have paid for the stadium and would have to pay more for adaptations to make it suitable for football.”
Speaking after the announcement Dennis Hone, chief executive of the LLDC, said: “Today’s decision on the Stadium represents an important milestone towards reopening the Olympic Stadium.
“If we are to have a football tenant, West Ham and other parties will need to meet the conditions that the board has set out today. If a deal is not possible then we will bring the Stadium back into use as soon as possible. In any event we are exploring options to hold events in summer 2013.”
Vice chairman of West Ham United Karren Brady welcomed the decision.
Ms Brady said: I’m proud that our great club has been awarded highest-ranked bidder status offering us an historic opportunity to return to West Ham and make this magnificent iconic Stadium our home for the next 100 years.
“It’s important for all supporters to note that while today’s decision represents a huge step forward it does not mean West Ham United have at this stage agreed to the move and it remains the case that we will only do so if the final proposal is right for the Club and our supporters. This includes the necessity of agreeing a Stadium design specification that is acceptable to us in terms of its ability to host world-class football matches.
“Therefore we believe this is the time for supporters to have their voices heard and a more intensive consultation process will commence immediately.”
At today’s meeting the board also approved a deal between iCITY – the preferred bidder for the long term lease of the Broadcast Centre – and BT to become the anchor tenant of the Broadcast Centre, taking 73,000 square feet to house its new BT Sport channels.
The 10-year lease will see BT refit the space to create a production centre including TV studios, a control centre, 20 edit suites and an audience holding area.
BT is due to start building works in February 2013 to convert the venue ahead of the launch of BT Sport in summer 2013. The operation is expected to generate around 250 jobs as part of iCITY, which plans to turn the buildings into a world-leading technology cluster that could create around 4,000 jobs.