Hackney council has plans to create a national centre of excellence for basketball at one of the stadiums to be built in the borough for the 2012 Olympics
The borough, which ran into problems with the £32m Clissold Leisure Centre, wants to convert the largest of three proposed stadiums earmarked for indoor ball events such as volleyball and basketball.

Guy Nicholson, Hackney's director of regeneration, said the venue would be a magnet for players to train.

He said: "There is a need for a regional or national centre for basketball, not just for Hackney or London but for the country as well."

Hackney is one of the five boroughs that meet regularly to prepare for the 2012 bid. The others are Waltham Forest, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich.

The cost of converting the venue, which has not been revealed, could be budgeted for in the initial cost estimate for the stadium, reducing the amount Hackney taxpayers would pay. They have already footed a £1.4m bill for delays at Clissold.

There is a need for a regional or national centre for basketball

Guy Nicholson, Hackney council

Meanwhile, Hackney council has parted company with Herbert Smith, the lawyer it employed in its action against the Hodder Associates and David Langdon, the architect and QS for the Clissold centre.

A council spokesperson said taking the legal work in house enabled the council to monitor the project more closely. He said: "The decision was taken because it is more cost efficient. With the high-profile nature of the project, it enables closer management."

The spokesperson denied that Hackney might be set to reappoint Herbert Smith, as sources have suggested.

The council is suing architect Hodder and Davis Langdon for cost and time overruns on Clissold, which opened in February 2002 but shut at the end of last year after a series of defects came to light.