OLYMPIC chiefs yesterday repeatedly refused to rule out Tottenham’s bid for the 2012 stadium despite the club being unwilling to retain the running track.
The north London outfit are the only bidders known to want to scrap the facility if they move into the 80,000-seater arena in Stratford after the Games.
Premier League rivals West Ham have agreed to keep the track – a central part of London’s promise to deliver an athletics legacy – if they prove successful.
But Andrew Altman, chief executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, told City A.M.: “I guess you could say we’re keeping our options open. Let’s see what we have.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, when asked directly, also rejected the chance to categorically rule out bidders who do not include the running track.
“I don’t want to get into the detail of the bids and how it’s all going to work,” Johnson told City A.M. “There are discussions to be had. But you’ve got to be in conformity with the bid and I’m sure that they will be. Everybody at the moment is.”
Reminded that AEG, Tottenham’s partners in the bid, had this week said they would not incorporate the track, the Mayor added: “I’m not going to discuss the details of anybody’s bid but, as far as I understand it, so far everybody is compliant.”
Johnson’s words hint that an athletics legacy is not the deal-breaker it has been made out to be.
OPLC chairman Margaret Ford, who is responsible for choosing the winning bidder, reiterated their commitment to keeping the track at yesterday’s launch of post-2012 plans for the Olympic Park, which is to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the Games.
“We’ve been crystal clear from the start that one of our criteria was they would have to
tell us how they would keep the Olympic promise,” she said. “That hasn’t changed.” Johnson added: “There has got to be athletics somewhere in the mix and it’s got to conform with the Olympic bid.”
However, when pressed, both Ford and Johnson declined to say whether retaining the track was “non-negotiable”.
Tottenham insist their bid to move into the Olympic Stadium is only a contingency plan in case their proposals to build a new ground next to their current home, White Hart Lane, collapse. OPLC hope to identify a preferred bidder by December.