(WFI) The main backer of Tottenham Hotspur’s proposed move to the London Olympic Stadium in Stratford has accused critics of “forgetting” the promises made to the IOC in Singapore in July 2005 when the city made its successful bid for the games.
David Campbell, chief executive and president of AEG Europe, suggested that debate about the athletic legacy of the site in east London had fundamentally shifted because neither alternative put forward bears recognition to previous pledges.
AEG, in partnership with Tottenham Hotspur, are currently vying for a lease on the site with West Ham United. Tottenham are proposing to build a new purpose built stadium on the site and to support the renovation of Crystal Palace athletics stadium in south London. West Ham seek to modify the Olympic Stadium and retain the athletics track. The Olympic Park Legacy Company is expected to make a decision over the next week.
“What they were going to do is pull down the top of the stadium and make it into a 25,000 seat stadium,” Campbell told LBC Radio.
“That was going to be the legacy. That’s what was promised in Singapore and everyone forgets that.
“The choice now is between two football stadiums. Either you try and remodel that into a football stadium, which is what West Ham are proposing, and you’ve got a running track running around that, which makes it very very difficult and in some cases impossible to see a game.”
Campbell led the team that took control of the Millenium Dome in North Greenwich and transformed it into one of Europe’s most successful entertainment venues.
“You’ve got to look at long-term sustainability,” he said.
“In my view, having had a white elephant from the government, if they don’t do this right they’re going to go down the route of putting an athletics stadium in, everyone going “whoopee” in 2015, and in 2020 we’re going to have a very large, taxpayer paid white elephant that we’re going to have to sustain again. So we need to have a proper long-term view.”
Campbell’s comments come after a rift has seemingly broken out in the British athletics community over the future of the stadium.
The Association of British Athletics Clubs (ABAC) says that the plans supported by the sports’ governing body – UK Athletics – for West Ham to assume the tenancy and keep the running track perpetuate “a myth and a sham” about athletics legacy.
“Saying that there would be a proper athletics legacy merely by keeping the track at the Olympic Stadium is a myth and a sham,” said John Bicourt, an officer of the ABAC.
“The true reason for those touting the legacy myth is to save face over the wholly unrealistic promises made in Singapore by the Olympic bid team.
“West Ham, should they win the bid, would almost certainly demand the right to remove the track after a few years on the basis that the stadium is barely used for athletics enough to justify keeping it.”
From INSIDER’s James Corbett
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