Olympic Stadium proposal submitted

A ground-breaking proposal has been submitted on Monday to ensure that football and athletics can be the best of neighbours at the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Newham Council and West Ham United's radical plan presented to the Olympic Park Legacy Company is to make the venue in Stratford a vibrant centre of sport, culture and education.

Open all year round, it would have an active community use, inspiring learning and achievement and helping to create a better quality of life for tens of thousands of people.

The proposal - which is backed by Essex Cricket, the University of East London (UEL) and Newham College of Further Education - is for a stadium with a capacity of up to 60,000 that would retain the competition athletics track. It will have 80,000 seats for the Games.

The bid includes retaining a second warm-up track next to the stadium, which would be used by community athletics groups such as Newham and Essex Beagles, the current UK men's athletic club champions, as well as international athletes. The Beagles also count Stratford-born 400m Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu among their members.

The joint bid has already been welcomed by Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics. He said it "embraces a strong athletics legacy in the stadium which is very welcome".

Essex Cricket are interested in using the stadium for Twenty20 Cricket after the Games while UEL want to be a tenant of the stadium building, with access to the sports facilities. It could teach sport, health and biosciences.

Most of the proposed stadium structure would be retained. It would also feature a specialist studio school for 300 pupils aged 14 to 19, delivering education and sports and leisure training. There would also be a further education skills and enterprise campus in and around the stadium providing for up to 4,000 learners every year.

The Premier League football club and the council believe the move could result in the best-ever legacy for an Olympic stadium. It would generate much-needed employment in the area and make for a healthier East London by increasing sports and physical activity.

They say the initiative could bring a wider benefit too. One of the ideas being examined is to incorporate an Olympic visitor centre and football museum at the stadium. Together with the other attractions in the Olympic Park and the neighbouring Westfield Stratford City shopping centre it could make the venue one of the nation's favourite destinations.

The relocation of the Hammers to the Olympic site would also offer the opportunity for the current Upton Park stadium site to form part of a regeneration scheme that would include new homes, shops and community facilities.

Both parties are mindful of the pledge given to the International Olympic Committee that a London Games will leave a solid athletics legacy. But both suggest football and other sports can share the venue and prevent it from becoming a "ghost of Olympics past".

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: "London wants to deliver a great Games - we want to a deliver a great legacy.

"Our plans would ensure the magic dust of the Olympics lives on long after the Games has finished, inspiring young people for years to come. The stadium is the jewel in the crown of London 2012. We see it as the catalyst in our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform not just Newham, but the whole of the East End.

"We will create a stadium that captures the heart and spirit of the Games for decades to come. It will be a vibrant centre of sport, culture and education. It will inspire learning and achievement and help build a better quality of life for tens of thousands. It can host many great sporting moments along the way. A busy Olympic Stadium also means job opportunities for local people."

West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady said: "We believe this is the only bid that can deliver London's legacy commitment to the International Olympic Committee.

"The last thing anyone wants is for the Olympic Stadium to become a ghost of Olympics past. The only realistic solution is to make the stadium work for a Premier League football team and that should be West Ham United.

"As a top flight football club we have the necessary expertise in running a major multi-purpose venue. Working with Newham Council we could ensure extensive use of the stadium that would create prosperity in the local area and see this club grow and move on to another level. Our plan to keep most of the stadium in place protects the public investment."