The battle between Spurs and West Ham for control of the Olympic Stadiums looks to be heating up another notch. Tottenham recently announced that if they were to get their hands on the stadium, they would bulldoze it in order to make room for a replacement stadium. That’s right; Spurs are looking to purchase a site of important historical heritage only to raze it to the ground. The London 2012 arena, which will be built in Stratford is estimated to cost around £538 million.
The stadium, which is set to hold between 55,000 and 60,000 seats, would be an upgrade for both Spurs (who currently have a capacity of 36,310 at White Hart Lane) and West Ham (who have a capacity of 35,303). I originally thought it was clear why both clubs find the Olympic Stadium such an intriguing prospect: they would generate more income in proportion to the increased capacity, without having to incur the expenses involved in building a new ground. Spurs plans have left me more than a little flummoxed.
The truth is, Spurs are being pretty cunning here. They’ve started looking East, and considering the Olympic Stadium because of the spiralling projected cost of building a new stadium in Tottenham. The national and international links at Stratford make it a significant money saver. After having purchased the Olympic Stadium, Tottenham plan to sell White Hart Lane to property developers in order to fund their development plans in Stratford.
West Ham have responded to Spurs plans with the following statement: “We believe our proposal is the best all-round proposal. It is the most deliverable and provides a legacy. For anyone who understands the area, it is the most natural bid and the most logical in terms of what we can deliver.”
Tottenham’s plans for the Olympic Stadium are bold, but they do seem to significantly weaken their bid. Are the Olympic Committee likely to side with West Ham who are keen to maintain the Stadium and its heritage, or Spurs, who plan to demolish it? West Ham’s bid seems stronger at the moment, but not without its difficulties. Can the Hammers really expect to reach capacity at a 60,000 seat stadium?
To me, the whole palaver seems like a back-up plan for Spurs – one they will only really begin to take seriously if they decide to scrap their Northumberland Project for good. It may be the case that Spurs put in a bid now just to be on the safe side. The truth is, if Spurs were to move to East London, Tottenham fans would be unhappy that they lost their North London roots and the rest of us would be unhappy that Spurs had destroyed a site of important cultural heritage. At the moment the Stadium is West Hams to lose.
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