Now that the 2012 Olympics are over, attention turns back to the long-running debate over what will be done with the Olympic Stadium.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce spoke this week of his concerns not only for his club missing out on a move to the stadium, but for it becoming a ‘white elephant’.
Before the Olympics, the stadium was in high demand, with both Tottenham Hotspur FC and West Ham United FC bidding for the right to call the stadium ‘home’, as well as Leyton Orient FC. The deadline for bids was recently extended by eight weeks, yet out of 16 interested parties, only four have lodged bids.
West Ham United have launched a new bid after having originally won the right to move into the stadium, only for the government to pull the plug on the deal amid concerns over delays as Tottenham Hotspur took the case to court after missing out. Spurs won’t be launching a new bid as their plans to demolish the stadium and build a new one on the same site are not popular.
However, Leyton Orient have made a new bid, as they believe the stadium is crucial to their existence – they argue that by allowing another football club to occupy the ground, they are at risk of losing supporters – and the income that their attendance generates.
Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One are perhaps the most eye-catching of the four bidders – they talk about using the stadium to bring Formula One racing to the heart of the capital. This is despite Bernie Ecclestone stating a preference for the track to pass landmarks and monuments such as Buckingham Palace. It’s not clear how the Queen would feel about that: imagine the noise of the odd car that goes by your house too fast and multiply it by about 100.
Perhaps the most attractive bid in the eyes of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the organisation responsible for considering and approving bids, is that of the University College of Football Business Degrees (UCFB). Their bid is in keeping with the government’s desire to leave a lasting legacy for future generations, and creating education and employment through sport is precisely what they have in mind.
Whoever wins the right to occupy the Olympic Stadium will move into an incredible arena, which is among the most advanced stadia in the world. Security and policing may appear to be an issue for football clubs as the stadium has been built on an island with access via a number of bridges, but modern stadiums are now designed using advanced crowd simulation technology, similar to that created by Oasys Software, and so public safety is a key issue that was addressed well before the Olympic Games.