Olympic Stadium Possibility Confirmed

West Ham United have confirmed that there is a possibility of moving from Upton Park - in twelve years time!

Director Chris Manhire, who is overseeing the Dr. Martens stand redevelopment, says that the club have been approached about moving to a potential Olympic stadium in Stratford if England are awarded the games in 2012, and reveals:

"All it is, we were approached by a consortium who are in the very early days are looking to bid for the 2012 Olympics for London.

"Because of the problems associated with Wembley and making it a dual purpose stadium, it means that the consortium are looking at other sites and have highlighted a site in Newham.

"We had a meeting putting a proposal to us about whether we would be interested in taking over the stadium after the Olympics in 2012, and our view was that we don't want to shut any doors, and we basically said we would consider it.

"But that's as far as it is; it's very early days and if it does happen it wouldn't happen until 2013, the following season to the Olympics.

"It will be a state of the art purpose built all seater up to 80,000 capacity so we would be mad to shut the door on them.

"We're not committing the club to anything, we're not spending any money, we're just saying 'yes, we want to talk to you, and keep us in the loop.'"

But any discussions, however tentative, do not affect the rebuilding at Upton Park, and Chris explains:

"We crack on and the west stand is nearing completion - hopefully we will carry on the redevelopment to the east stand as well, and this won't have any effect at all on our redevelopment proposals."

If the move did come off, and West Ham did vacate Upton Park, Green Street's loss would be Stratford's gain, and Chris adds:

"I would imagine that Upton Park would be sold for a redevelopment site unless we in turn could sell it to another football club - which I think is probably unlikely.

"Anything can happen in football and we are just keeping our minds open at the moment."

There are numerous variables, of course - not the least of which is a successful bid from Great Britain to host the games.  

"It depends who gets the next Olympics as to whether it will come to Europe or not.

"If Beijing gets it in 2008, then the view is it will come to Europe the next time after that, and if it does London would be competing against all and sundry, so it is very, very early days.

"Obviously the consortium are committed to getting it to London but it is too early to say anything concrete.

"But taking on board that our competitiors are ever expanding their stadia, we know that 40,000 is all we can get, so it's a case of not closing your mind to anything and being open to the approach.

"There are obviously concerns about the design with the running track.

"The Barcelona stadium has only just recently been re-used; they build these Olympic stadia and then there is nobody to use them.

"So as part of this bid, if they got an end user, they see that as an advantage.

"Stratford is going to be a huge rail hub and the links into it are going to be very good.

"But it's a fairly long time time frame and who knows if I'll be here in 2013!"

Richard Sumray, the chief executive of pressure group London International Sport, confirmed:

"In principle, what West Ham are saying is they are interested; if the stadium is built in Stratford then they would have to consider their options.

"If we are going to build an Olympic stadium at Stratford that will require a lot of investment,and if we are going to invest huge sums of money we want the facility to be sustainable, and that means finding an anchor tenant.

"West Ham are the obvious choice and after I approached them they were keen to hear about the possibilities."

The ultimate decision about whether a bid for the games is made rests with the British Olympic Association, the government, and the Mayor of London. 

As for the demolition of the 'old' west stand, Chris explains:

"The front of the lower tier is now down and they have to strip the asbestos roof out carefully.

"That will be another week or so and then they will start nibbling it down."

And does he have any souvenirs?

"Yes, I have bought a couple of seats for the garden and I've put a couple of bids in for things on the internet!"