Locog chair hits out at Spurs plan to remove running track after 2012 games
Lord Coe has spoken out against a bid by Tottenham Hotspurs to demolish most of the 2012 Olympic stadium after the games and rebuild it as a Premier League football ground.
Coe, chair of the 2012 games organisers, Locog, said awarding the stadium to Tottenham would “trash” the UK’s reputation in world sport, following promises in the UK’s bid to use the games to provide a permanent legacy for athletics.
Spurs’ plans would see the running track around the ground removed, instead giving £25m to bolster the existing athletics venue at Crystal Palace. The rvial bid by West Ham would see the running track retained, alongside premiership football.
Bosses at the Legacy Company which is making the decision are to meet on Friday to choose between the bids.
Lord Coe, who led the UK bid, said: “It’s really serious that we deliver on what we said we were going to deliver, unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation,” Coe told the BBC. “If we don’t, it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future in the corridors of world sport.”
Throwing his weight behind the West Ham bid, he added: “The bid was very clear and unambiguous. This was a community facility, multi-sport, track and field… I genuinely don’t recall a whole heap about bulldozing down a publicly-funded facility, replacing it with a Premiership football club and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticket holders, however many there may be on a waiting list.”
Spurs’ bid would see the £496m publicly-funded stadium largely dismantled after just four weeks of use.
However, Coe’s comments have already been criticized by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who warned against emotive language surrounding the issue. He told Sky Sports News: “Surely it’s a far better legacy for London as a whole if you have a world-class stadium for multi-use within the Olympic Park that is full throughout the year and a dedicated athletics venue in south London.
“Strip out the emotion, take a step back and ask what’s best for athletics - it’s surely to have a dedicated facility that’s available all-year round rather than 20 days a year.
“I’d don’t buy the argument of having somewhere to take your grandchild to reminisce on London 2012, what I buy is a dedicated facility which will always be the home of athletics. The original proposal outlined a 25,000-seater stadium in the Olympic Park. But there were other commitments, such as for it not be a white elephant, for it to be a vibrant area.
“Can you honestly say having a 25,000-seater stadium that when it was put out to market no one wanted would contribute to a vibrant area? The answer’s no.”