Two months after branding Tottenham and AEG’s joint venture to move the club into the Olympic Park Stadium after the culmination of the 2012 games as being ‘completely unacceptable’, UK Athletics chief Ed Warner has decreed that the aforementioned partners’ final, revised proposal is ‘insulting’ to his direct superiors on the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
After Britain initially secured the Olympics back in 2005, the IOC were promised by the successful London bid team that the 2012 games would leave an ‘athletics legacy’ in their wake, i.e. a brand new athletics-centric stadium along with several other related complexes – though the Spurs bid is entirely focused on the partial tearing down of the 80,000-seater Olympic Stadium in order to build an even newer, 60,000-seat venue which would be capable of hosting both Premier League games and concerts staged by their partners in crime.
In order to pander to the IOC, Spurs/AEG have also pledged to rebuild the crumbling facilities at the Crystal Palace athletics stadium, which would see the addition of 9,500 extra seats (raising the capacity to 25,000), with the option of adding another 15,000 seats in order to enable the staging a World Championship – a pledge that Warner has derided as little more than a ‘minimal consolation prize’:
“I think what they’ve come up with looks incredibly thin. They’ve come up with the bare minimum that they hope will pass muster with the legacy company when the decision is made, but it’s nothing like the sort of legacy that was envisaged in 2005 in the London bid.
“There are a number of people in the IOC and the IAAF (the International Association of Athletics Federations) firmament who are looking for the track to remain in the stadium and for the legacy to be substantial, and I think they’ll feel insulted by this. It has the feeling of a lick of paint and a new scoreboard.”
Unlike Tottenham, rival bidders West Ham (who are working in conjunction with Newham Council and Live Nation entertainment promoters) formally announced their plans for a multi-use, community-friendly stadium several months ago – a proposal which is almost certain to see them heralded as the Olympic Park Legacy Committee‘s preferred bidder when the official announcement is made on January 28th, a gilded recommendation that will – in turn – almost certainly see the Hammers’ bid winning outright when the final decision is made by the IOC at the end of March.
However, Spurs are not willing to succumb that readily, and have gone on the offensive today, with the club’s chief architect David Keirle questioning West Ham’s ability to actually deliver on their overtly athletics-friendly proposal:
“There’d be nothing worse than, five years down the line, a failing club not being to be able to meet its obligations because it’s not getting 60,000 fans and saying there’s no atmosphere.
I would suggest a large number of fans just wouldn’t go. These aren’t just stadium design issues, they go to the heart of commercial viability. Filling 60,000 football fans into an athletics facility is a fantastic challenge.”
Meanwhile, Spurs will continue to press ahead with their parallel plans to rebuild White Hart Lane though, with the current cost of the project estimated to be hovering somewhere around the £450 million due to the extensive transport network improvements being demanded by Haringey council (as opposed to the piffling £250 million it will cost them to redevelop the Olympic Stadium), the club are understandably reluctant to tag it as their priority venture.