Olympic Stadium not up to Premier League standards
LONDON (AP) -- The field inside London's Olympic Stadium is not up to Premier League standards and will have to be ripped up after the games using public funds to enable a soccer team to use the venue.
The 486 million pound ($767 million) stadium has been built without the under-soil heating required in England to stage top soccer matches.
West Ham would have paid up to 2 million pounds ($3.16 million) to install a new field with underground heating, but its long-term tenancy agreement was ripped up last year due to legal challenges.
Instead, the Olympic Park Legacy Company told The Associated Press it will have to pay for the post-games transformation of the stadium, which West Ham could just rent.
"The Olympic Stadium is a white elephant and they now have to spend money to stop it being a white elephant," London Assembly member Andrew Boff told the AP on Tuesday.
Renting the stadium to a soccer club is vital to ensuring the stadium's long-term viability despite it originally being designed primarily for athletics.
"The problem is here is the stadium was never designed for football," said Boff, who sits on a committee that scrutinizes the Olympic project. "We've seen the results of really bad planning, really shockingly, awful decisions made during the planning stage before the OPLC was around. They have been handled a real mess to sort out."
About 35 million pounds ($55 million) has already earmarked under the Olympic budget to downsize the stadium from an 80,000 to a 60,000-seat facility after the games.
One certainty is that the running track will remain in the stadium regardless of the outcome, with London awarded the 2017 world athletics championships.
"I would not think a Premier League team would want anything other than a stadium designed for football," Boff said. "A Premier League team cannot survive in the Olympics Stadium as it is."
Sixteen companies have expressed an interest in bidding for the use of the stadium after the Olympics, including West Ham, and have until March 23 to submit formal bids. The winning bidders will be announced in May, but the stadium won't be ready until 2014.
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