gotosy Posted December 5, 2012 Report Share Posted December 5, 2012 West Ham confirmed as highest ranked bidder for London Olympic Stadium West Ham have taken a key step towards relocating to the Olympic Stadium after they were named the highest ranked bidder for the £429m venue.Following a board meeting, the London Legacy Development Corporation announced that the east end club was its first choice to be the main tenant at the stadium, but concluding a binding deal will require further negotiation. The Guardian revealed last week that West Ham were set to be named preferred bidders for the 99-year lease, with the London Mayor and LLDC chair Boris Johnson believing that they offered the most viable solution for the future of the park, but equally insistent that the deal must make sense for the taxpayer.The majority of the £160m-plus conversion cost of making the stadium suitable for both football and athletics will be met by the public purse. Newham Council will contribute a loan of up to £70m and £38m will come from the existing Olympics budget.West Ham have offered to contribute £15m but believe that their contribution of £2.5m a year in rent and a claimed £6m in additional sponsorship and catering income will ensure the conversion work to install a full roof and retractable seats pays for itself. How the conversion is to be paid for and the terms of the deal will now be subject to further negotiation before final contracts can be signed.An investment bank is likely to be engaged to help structure the deal in such a way that the public purse shares in any potential upside for West Ham, should the move result in a large boost in revenues or a windfall in the event the club was sold.For their part, West Ham believe that not only do they offer the most viable economic solution to the long running conundrum over what to do with the stadium, but that their presence will give the park a vitality and energy that it would otherwise lack.West Ham's Karren Brady has made much of the community benefits that the club would bring, but LLDC sources are equally concerned that the club is locked into the deal for the long term and is not perceived as being gifted a public asset on the cheap.Some on the board had pushed the case that an alternative, cheaper solution should have been pursued. That would have involved spending just £38m on making the stadium ready for reopening in 2014 rather than 2015 or 2016 as a multi-use venue without football.The saga, complicated by the decision in 2007 to close down the option of a stadium suitable for both athletics and football and press on with building a semi-permanent venue that kept all options open, has been labelled a "Stratford farce" by the UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.UKA will be guaranteed around 20 dates a year in the new stadium and plan to use it for Diamond League meetings as well as for smaller events and the 2017 World Athletics Championships.It will also be used to host concerts and other one-off sporting events. But while the Olympic Stadium is on the list of venues to be used for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, if West Ham do conclude a deal to move in then the timetable will be extremely tight to complete the necessary construction work in time.Now that West Ham have been named as the highest ranked bidder, the LLDC is expected to press on with appointing an experienced stadium management company such as AEG or Live Nation to co-ordinate events and ensure it is used as close to 365 days a year as possible.The other bidders for the tenancy were Leyton Orient, whose chairman Barry Hearn has been a vocal critic of the botched process, as well as an ambitious and unlikely scheme to host Formula One races in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a proposal from a football business college.If a deal can be concluded, West Ham will sell Upton Park to developers and use the proceeds to help pay down the debt on the club's balance sheet – they will not be able to carry the debt with them as they will no longer have an asset on which to secure it.West Ham had been due to move in to the stadium under an earlier process that had to be abandoned in the face of High Court challenges from Orient and Tottenham Hotspur, and an anonymous complaint to the European Commission that alleged the deal had broken rules on state aid.The deal with West Ham had to be ripped up and the bidding process restarted. It has since been subject to further delays owing to the complexity of the negotiations and anxiety at the prospect of further legal challenge.If the West Ham deal is concluded, construction work is unlikely to begin until the summer and it could be August 2016 before the club plays its first competitive fixture in the stadium. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/dec/05/west-ham-highest-ranked-bidder-olympic-stadium Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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