OPLC wants ground-share agreement
December 23, 2011
Football and rugby clubs could team up to use the Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games.
The new bidding process to use the stadium after the Games opens on Tuesday. West Ham are favourites to become the tenants but the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) have confirmed they will accept a ground-share bid from a football and a rugby team, and that retaining the athletics track is non-negotiable.
The Liberty Stadium in Swansea, home to Swansea City and the Ospreys, is seen as a successful model of a ground-share scheme.
The OPLC will also be open to selling the naming rights on the stadium, with the tenants receiving a cut of the income.
The original deal for West Ham to take over the stadium collapsed in October due to legal challenges from Tottenham and Leyton Orient, and under the new process the OPLC will spend around £95million on converting the stadium to a 60,000-seat venue for the new tenants.
If the tenants want to have retractable seating over the running track, as West Ham are considering as part of their bid, they would have to cover those costs themselves.
The deadline for the bids is in March with a decision due in May, and the stadium reopened in 2014.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said: "The Government is committed to securing a legacy from the Olympic Stadium, and wants to see it re-opening in 2014.
"With the 2017 World Athletics Championship bid won, athletics will be at the heart of a multi-purpose venue that will also be a great asset to the local community.
"The Olympic Stadium is an iconic venue and I am sure that it will attract interesting and exciting bids for its future use."
The OPLC will retain control of a number of days for the stadium. Some of these are reserved for athletics including the London Diamond League meeting, and others could be used for Twenty20 cricket, concerts and American football - talks have already been held with the NFL.
London mayor Boris Johnson, who said in October that West Ham would "almost certainly" become the tenants, added: "Opening up the bidding to other interested parties now shows just how far ahead we are in planning a great future for east London long after the Games have left town."
Newham council are expected to become a partner with the OPLC to operate the stadium and have offered up to £40million towards the cost of transforming the stadium.
The tenants can bid to rent the stadium for between five years and 99 years, with an annual rent to be paid and possibly a cut of any ticket revenue.
The OPLC have laid down four main criteria for bids:
• To deliver a viable, long-term, multi-use stadium that is deliverable and provides value for money.
• To re-open the stadium for operational use from 2014.
• To re-open the stadium with an athletics track that allows track and field events to be hosted at all levels including the World Athletics Championship.
• To allow flexible usage of the stadium by OPLC, tenants and other bodies, allowing year-round community access.
The bids will be evaluated by the OPLC who will then make recommendations to the Government and mayor of London.