London 2012 Olympics: World Athletics Championship bid given boost with news of athletics’ 99-year lease in the stadium

London is bidding against Doha to host the 2017 event, which will be decided on Friday, with uncertainty over the fate of the Olympic Stadium following the collapse of West Ham’s original bid last month a potentially decisive factor.
To counter any negative impact from that decision London’s bid wrote to members of the IAAF Council at the weekend giving them details of the new tender arrangements.
The letter, disclosed details of the new tender process which have not yet been made public, was sent as Olympic Park Legacy Company chairman Baroness Ford and chief executive Andrew Altman prepare to face public questions on Tuesday for the first time since the West Ham deal collapsed.
Politicians from all three main political parties are expected to ask how they intend to deliver a financially viable stadium while retaining the track when they appear before the London Assembly.
In the letter, sent to IAAF President Lamine Diack and the 25 Council members, London’s bid said UK Athletics will be granted a 99-year lease for use of the athletics track. The correspondence, endorsed by the OPLC, also states that the track will be retained for the lifetime of the stadium

New tender documents for the stadium are not expected to be finalised for at least two weeks and could be delayed until December, but the commitment to retaining the track has been at the heart of government efforts to win the 2017 event.

Ford will be part of the London delegation to the IAAF Congress in Monaco this week, as will Sir Craig Reedie, an International Olympic Committee executive board member and one of the architects of the successful London 2012 bid who has been asked to lend weight to the campaign team.”

The OPLC is seeking tenants who will rent access to the stadium, with West Ham saying they remain committed despite the collapse of their initial bid, funded by a £40m loan Newham Council.

The viability of playing football in the stadium remains open to question however, and politicians on all sides of the assembly said on Monday that they required convincing that taxpayers would not eventually have to foot the bill.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the Assembly, said the collapse of the original deal could cost taxpayers £65 million — the funding offered by Newham and the proceeds of from the eventual sale of Upton Park — and retaining the track was not viable.

“West Ham will be the only major club in the world moving into a stadium with a running track rather than trying to move out of one,” he said.

“I want to be convinced that there is a viable solution for this stadium nothing I have heard suggests it is. We have lost £65 million already, which makes it more likely that it is going to require the public to shovel cash into the stadium for years and years and years."

Liberal Democrat Dee Doocey, chairman of the economy, culture and sport, said: “The question remains how can we have a stadium with a running track that successfully hosts football?

“We have had five years of discussion about this and we still do not have a finalised legacy for the stadium I just cannot see how it is ever going to be a runner.”

Labour representative Murad Qureshi said: “I want to hear what sort of partners the OPLC can bring in alongside football or instead of football to make this work. I would also like to see a groundshare considered.

“But I think the authorities have to acknowledge that this stadium should have followed the Manchester Commonwealth Games model, where the track was removed to make way for a football stadium that was viable.”

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