West Ham simply made a “more compelling” case to move in to the Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games, the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) chairman Baroness Ford has said.
Barring any possible last-ditch legal challenge, the unanimous decision by the OPLC’s 14-strong board ends rival Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes of making the £537 million venue their new home after the Games.
The OPLC’s decision to make West Ham the preferred bidder still has to be rubber-stamped by the Government and the London Mayor’s office – but it would be a major surprise if it is not accepted.
Baroness Ford refused to comment on the merits of the rival London club bids but she added: “Unanimously the board believed it was a much more compelling proposition.”
West Ham is a “cracking” choice for east London, where the Olympic Stadium is based, according to Baroness Ford. It is also “great for Londoners, it’s excellent news for the UK taxpayer and it’s a good outcome for sport”, she said.
West Ham’s success, even in the face of relegation, means an athletics track will stay inside the stadium.
This has always been a bone of contention, with Tottenham and many football stars including Brazilian legend Pele arguing that a football-only stadium would be the best way to maintain the atmosphere for the fans.
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe broke the news to International Athletics Association Federation chief Lamine Diack in a personal call immediately after the announcement.
Diack, who had warned that Britain’s reputation would be damaged if the stadium was ripped out after the Games as planned by Tottenham, was “delighted”.
Lord Coe, also a double Olympic track and field champion, said he was “delighted” by the decision and congratulated the OPLC on “conducting such a thorough process in what has been a highly competitive bidding process”.