West Ham Win Olympic Stadium Race

Ollie Irish

11th, February 2011


By Ollie Irish

West Ham’s vibrant new manor? Or a huge, half-empty white elephant?

It’s official: West Ham United have been confirmed as the bid of choice to take over the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Stratford after London 2012.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (clunky acronym: OPLC) announced that the Irons (running track) have beaten Spurs (f**k the running track) in the race to move into the stadium.

The decision must be ratified by the Government and London mayor Boris Johnson, but there’s no indication that either party would overturn the OPLC’s decision.

Bo-Jo said: “This is a very significant step forward towards delivering the Olympic Park legacy and the Legacy Company has run a thoroughly professional and robust process.

“This milestone means we now have the prospect of a local football club and a multi-use venue capable of hosting athletics, a range of other sports and a vibrant programme of events for the local community and schools.

“I am thrilled that the Legacy Company board has arrived at a recommendation for me and my colleagues in Government to consider. I am confident that we will be able to respond quickly to the advice of the Legacy Company in making our decision.”

The British Olympic Association, which of course sided with West Ham, said: “The recommendation announced today by the Olympic Park Legacy Company is a victory for athletes, for sport and, importantly, for the generations of young people who will see their lives transformed as a result of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“We hope this recommendation will ensure the London Games will be the beginning, rather than the end, of a dynamic new era for Olympic, high performance and grassroots sport in Great Britain.

“This is also a victory for the reputation of British sport globally. When the London 2012 bid team stood before members of the International Olympic Committee in 2005 and asked for their vote, they did so with a commitment to deliver a meaningful legacy from the Olympic Games, including the retention of an athletics track inside the iconic Olympic Stadium.”

Baroness Ford, chair of the OPLC, insisted the selection process had been fair and robust.

She said: “Our board has considered this really carefully and we have made a unanimous recommendation to select West Ham and the London borough of Newham as the long-term tenant for our Olympic Stadium.

“This has not been an easy decision and, despite what has been trailed in some of the newspapers, this has not been a fait accompli.

“We have taken this very seriously indeed. Both bidders were considered seriously on the merits – that’s what our job was.”

Pies says: As a Tottenham fan opposed to the Stratford move, I’m happy, albeit with obvious reservations. This feels like a bullet dodged, though I could be very wrong about that – and if West Ham are playing in the Champions League in ten years’ time, with Tottenham mired in mid-table (a bigger if than an old pair of Neil Ruddock’s shorts), then I will have been proved about as wrong as you can be.

West Ham fans seem to be in two minds – at least – about winning the race for the Olympic prize. Is it a race worth winning? Can WHFC even fill the stadium on a regular basis? Probably not. One Irons fan told me he had “a bad feeling about this”, and that’s exactly the feeling I had when Spurs entered the process. There is the danger that the stadium will fail to meet either West Ham or UK Athletics’ very different needs.

The third party in this is poor Leyton Orient, a club in no position even to take part in the race, but also a club that will be affected in a major way by the final outcome – and not in a good way. Orient have been marginalised, stamped on, overlooked, ignored and more… no wonder their fans are so angry right now.

What do you think this means for West Ham, Spurs and Orient? Very interested to hear your thoughts…

West Ham’s Olympic Stadium Dream/Nightmare (Delete Where Applicable)

Posted in Featured, West Ham Utd

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  1. Luke says:

    As a spurs fan…it feels a little like at the end of Finding Nemo…where the ‘tank fish’ have successfully escaped the dentists office and then upon reaching the freedom of the ocean, find themselves stuck inside the plastic bags…

    Yes. It’s good news for us (even better when W. Ham are relegated this year)…but we’re still in a predicament where WHL is concerned…

  2. Adam says:

    There’s no such thing as Stratford Hotspur! Spurs fan here says bullet dodged. I’m elated. We’ll get our new stadium, and we’ll get it where it belongs.

  3. Pedro says:

    From a public policy point of view, this goes to show just how incompetently governments make decisions or delegate responsibilities. To start off, there was no actual plan with what to do with the infrastructure once it had exhausted its initial purpose – a dreamy “athletics legacy” does not qualify as either a sound business plan or intelligent sports policy (in general terms, any policy which assumes significant changes in behaviour or preferences has to, in my view, demonstrate why that is the case). The reason not too many people go into other sports, pay enough attention or allocate real resources to their funding or consumption is because not enough people care sufficiently to do so. End of story.

    (as an aside, how dare these imbeciles label football the worst run sport when it is by and large the most profitable and one of the very few that are self sustaining without massive amounts of government subsidisation and intervention? if every industry were judged by the same standards, we’d have no productive economy left)

    Apart from the issue of relocation, which I strongly oppose in both cases, I find it absolutely remarkable that on top of the massive policy blunder of not having a real plan in place for the stadium, the institutions in charge of the decision have plumped the empty and vacuous fantasy of a “athletics legacy”, trumping every ounce of rationality and pragmatism in the process and committing to deplete the public purse even further. It is a triumph of empty and shallow politics (is there any other kind?) over private interests putting their own resources on the line to ensure some kind of viability for the infrastructure. The delusional article by West Ham’s director yesterday in the paper only furthers the sense of ridicule and travesty of this whole endeavour and I fear it will end up harming the very people it’s supposed to be “helping” because the place will be a logistical nightmare.

    Even if it works, though, it will still have been a prime example the worst kind of politically motivated public spending that happily commits taxpayer money to the delusional ravings of a few.

  4. kelti says:

    with a low price policy maybe they could fill their stadium and become an anti-thesis to the big premier league teams as well. lots of people seem annoyed of paying absurd sums for tickets, but they still want to see football live in a stadium.

  5. hollis says:

    It could work out well, if it is turned into a proper multi-event stadium. Athletics are obviously going to remain part of it, but boxing, concerts, motorsports, gladitorial deathmatches and more should be considered. If that stadium is not whored out on every feasible occasion there is a very real chance of it becoming the white elephant that everyone apart from David^2 and Brady predict it to become.

    I see no problem with Upton Park, but I also see why West Ham had to bid. It is a good investment for sunnier days.

  6. kelti says:

    regarding the 80s revival one may use the running track for ufc-cagefights during the games… hop on hop off bus-tours with cass pennant through the east end…

  7. SeanBCFC says:

    west ham will break the record for biggest stadium in the second division!

  8. The Yank says:

    I think most Tottenham supporters opposed the move, whereas West Ham fans supported it. I too believe this is the right decision. I don’t care about the money, or the potentially empty seats, I only care about the character. White Hart Lane is too uniquely Tottenham’s for them to just move. Uptown Park is great, but this is a new level for West Ham. Tottenham are upper-class and can do things their own way (though sometimes not very effectively), whereas West Ham needs to draw more attention to themselves, and they are happy to do that. Its like changing from the Ironworks to them. Tottenham need no change, only growth and White Hart Lane is a great place to do that.

    I think everyone got what they wanted.

  9. Tom Jones says:

    West Ham does not need a new stadium. Stadium with running tracks should not be used as football stadiums.

  10. de Beaf says:

    I really think that neither any of them deserve to have it because west ham will b relegated and tottenham seem to be fine with White hart Lane. in fact i think the birth of an other London football club the perfect idea. just like Chelsea was created for Stamforg Bridge. btw I am a Chelsea fan

  11. Jose says:

    So what’s up with that whole redevelopment thing with a new stadium, mall, museum, etc. near the old stadium? Why did they not break ground already, instead of wasting resources to get the rights to tear down the Olympic stadium that will probably be second only to Wembley in cost?

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