Olympic Gold: Spurs or Hammers?
The future of the Olympic Stadium is a matter that is unavoidable for the United Kingdom. It is also a matter of great controversy.
Premier League football teams, Spurs and West Ham, have made bids for the Stadium – but many think it should remain an athletics venue. Lord Coe, London 2012 Chairman, believes that there is a “moral obligation” to keep the Olympic Stadium as a multi-sports arena. He promised the Olympic Committee that London 2012 would leave a legacy, and he is worried that if we do not fulfill promises made in the bid, “It’d be very difficult for us to be taken seriously in…world sport”.
This week, the BBC have reported that the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) executives have decided the offer from the West Ham United- which would retain the athletics track – is better than Tottenham’s rival bid.
The government and London’s mayor will shortly make a final decision but are expected to back the OPLC’s recommendation.
West Ham fan, Hamish Green, commented to the BBC, “I’m obviously pleased with OPLC’s backing. It seems logical- in view of the Spurs’ bid to knock down a brand new stadium and then eliminate themselves by moving the Olympic legacy, promised when we (London) won the Games, to Crystal Palace which has a running track already. It’s not ideal having a gap between fans and the pitch but that’s the price of a new 60,000-seater, which could be the envy of the entire Championship next year!”
Ken Allen, Managing Director of Lincoln-based CAD, the company that designed the £22 million west stand of Upton Park, told me that he has concerns about turning the Olympic stadium into a football venue. He believes we need a “British” stadium, rather than national stadiums in each country of the UK.
This would fit quite well with David Cameron’s recent opinions. The PM has said multiculturalism has failed and that we need a British identity, which is attractive to all. Clearly, having a national sports stadium for the UK would be helpful in achieving this.
It does seem that giving the Olympic Stadium to a football team is a bad idea – even for an avid football fan. It certainly seems unfair to give it to Tottenham, who want to remove the track (a recent BBC London poll suggested 81% of Londoners were against this.)
What is already perplexing is that, after the Olympics, some seats will be removed. This seems a waste of money – and in a time of cuts it seems almost laughable.
It’s hard to disagree with architect Ken Allen, when he says that a stadium for the whole of the UK can be a symbol of national pride, giving the British something to be proud of and something for tourists to marvel at.