West Ham United remain favourites to move into the Olympic stadium after the Games after the club were named as one of four final bidders , while ambitious plans to stage a Formula One race in the Park also remain on the shortlist.
Following a board meeting, the London Legacy Development Corporation named the four bidders that remain in the protracted bidding process for the £428m stadium. Bernie Ecclestone has given his backing to the bid to use the stadium as part of a Formula One track, a separate scheme from recently floated plans to stage a race in central London, but he is not directly involved.
"If they were to get permission to do it, then we would be more than happy to do something with them. But we have nothing to do with putting in a bid," he said of the bid, submitted by a company called Intelligent Transport Services.
The other two bidders are the UCFB College of Football Business and Leyton Orient. The east end club, which along with Tottenham Hostpur and an anonymous complainant to the European Union derailed an earlier attempt to award the stadium to West Ham, did not put its name forward under the initial bidding process. But when the deadline was extended by the LLDC, partly because bidders had been discouraged by unresolved issues around naming rights, the chairman, Barry Hearn, changed his mind and submitted a bid.
West Ham remain favourites to move in, but have said they will only do so on their terms. The vice chair, Karren Brady, wants to ensure the club and their supporters feel as though they have ownership of the ground during the football season and can benefit from sponsorship and commercial opportunities as the main tenants.
The club will also have to invest in adding a roof and hospitality boxes and want to investigate the possibility of installing retractable seating for the running track.
UK Athletics is already guaranteed use of the stadium, which will host the 2017 world athletics championships. Newham Council, which will put £40m into the project, will also be guaranteed a certain number of days access for community use. The four bids will be now be evaluated before negotiations begin, with the aim of coming to a decision by October. "London is further ahead in planning legacy than any previous host Olympic city. Despite our success this is no time to rest on our laurels. We have planned a superb Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and we are working to ensure we achieve the right long-term future for all our permanent venues," said LLDC chairman Daniel Moylan, who recently replaced Margaret Ford.
The LLDC has also made the iCity consortium the preferred bidder for the cavernous international broadcast centre and main press centre on the site. It will now enter into exclusive negotiations over its plans to house a data centre, hi-tech start ups, post production companies and educational establishments on the site.
The company will have to sign up to promises to deliver 3,800 jobs on the site. It has said it could increase employment on the site and in the surrounding area by up to 6,000.
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