(WFI) Tottenham Hotspur plan to knock down most of London’s Olympic Stadium and build a bespoke football stadium on the site if their bid to win its tenancy is successful.
The North London club are currently vying with Premier League rivals West Ham to take control of the 80,000-seat venue after the 2012 Games. A decision on a preferred bidder will be made by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) by Jan. 28.
“We’ve set out to provide a fan experience that is better than anything else in Europe in terms of a fan experience,” said David Kearle, chairman of Tottenham’s architects, KSS, and a Tottenham vice president.
“That’s been our starting point. We’re not taking American design standards for baseball or American football. We’re setting it out so that is an intense experience. You can see the other fans and if you can see them you can hear them, there’s a great intensity of noise on the pitch and it becomes an intimidating place to play.”
Tottenham – who have recently had plans to redevelop their existing home at White Hart Lane approved – are bidding in partnership with American sports giant AEG. They propose building a 60,000 stadium on the site.
The club are yet to state their preferred site, although financial realities may point towards Stratford, which is much larger. According to Keirle, it is “the best connected site in Europe.”
Most Tottenham fans are opposed to the switch east.
As part of their plans and in order to fulfil London 2012’s commitment to have a purpose-built athletics stadium in the capital, Tottenham have also offered to underwrite the redevelopment of the Crystal Palace athletics Stadium in south London.
The intention is to create a 25,000-seat stadium “with athletics at its core”.
In contrast to Tottenham, West Ham plan to keep the Olympic Stadium’s running track, and reduce capacity to 60,000.
In a presentation to media in central London today, Keirle went to great length to expose the shortcomings of West Ham’s plans.
“I cannot find one example in Europe or anywhere in the world where a top club has moved out of a bespoke football stadium and into an athletics stadium,” he said.
He added that under Tottenham’s plans its supporters would be eight metres away from the action. Under West Ham’s plans – because of the athletics track – fans would be 45 metres away.
He said that West Ham’s proposal to take out seats and increase spacing between the 60,000 remaining seats would lead to “a significant reduction atmosphere and noise”.
Tottenham revealed today that they first made an approach to the Olympic
Delivery Authority (ODA) in 2005 with a view to their building an Olympic Stadium that could easily be converted into a football stadium post-games.
That – and a proposal by West Ham that it be based on Paris’s Stade France, with a retractable athletics track – were both rejected in favour of the current model, which is designed to have its capacity reduced to 25,000 post-Games.
Tottenham sources today suggested that its conversion into a football stadium –without the significant work that they plan – could store up future problems.
Bundesliga side VFB Stuttgart were cited as an example after their stadium was rebuilt for the 2006 World Cup with an athletics track, only for it to be rebuilt yet again this year at a cost of “tens of millions” so that it is removed.
West Ham favourites; athletics legend Fredericks backs Hammers
West Ham nevertheless remain slight favourites in the race to take over the Olympic site from 2015.
LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe has effectively given his backing to the east London club and he was joined today by Frank Fredericks, chair of the IOC Athlete’s Commission, who backed West Ham’s bid plan to retain the track and leave an athletics legacy. UK Athletics has already thrown its weight behind the plan.
Speaking to reporters after an IOC meeting in Lausanne, the Namibian four-time Olympic silver medalist in the 100m and 200m said he regretted the fact that the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Stadium in which he won two medals had been turned into a baseball stadium.
“It is an empty feeling, the feeling that you cannot take you kids to show where you competed. I ran my fastest time there in the 200m,” he said.
“Being an Olympian, I would like that they [London 2012] continue to keep the [athletics] legacy and hopefully the track can stay.”
He refused to say if the IOC should apply pressure on the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to ensure the athletics track remained. The OPLC is deciding whether Spurs or West Ham should take control of the 80,000-seat stadium.
Fredericks said it was up to IOC president Jacques Rogge to decide if the Olympic body should intervene to ensure London 2012 organisers honoured their pledge to the IOC in 2005 to provide an Olympic Stadium with athletics legacy.
By INSIDER’s James Corbett
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