It’s the running track, stupid!

West Ham United co-chairman David Gold says they’re happy to keep the running track at the London Olympic stadium and UK Athletics has given its “formal support” to West Ham’s bid to take over London’s Olympic Stadium after 2012. So West Ham will get the stadium and we, the fans, will have to live with a running track … 

Unlike rival bidders Tottenham, the Hammers and Newham council have vowed to keep a running track at the venue. 

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner praised West Ham’s “clear commitment to the spirit of the Olympic legacy”: “We believe the collaboration of West Ham, Newham and UKA gives the strongest opportunity for a vibrant sporting legacy that will go well beyond 2012,” said Warner. 

The news is a major boost to West Ham after Spurs and entertainment giant AEG this month submitted their formal interest in taking over the stadium as a back-up to the club’s proposed redevelopment of its White Hart Lane home. 

AEG said last week that they would not be willing to keep the running track. UKA’s Warner is believed to have been angered by AEG president Tim Leiweke’s claim that it would not make economic sense to keep the stadium geared up for athletics because of a small number of major events that could be staged at the venue. 

West Ham chairman David Gold insists that West Ham would keep the track, potentially giving them the edge over their rivals: “With the running track, I was worried when we first started negotiations, but there are a number of stadiums that have received acclaim that have a running track,” said Gold. 

Sight as good as The Emirates? 

Running track: sold out Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna

Running track: Choreo in sold out Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna

“Rome has one and Rustenburg in South Africa does too and that was considered the best stadium at the World Cup,”, Gold said. “The sight-lines of supporters will be as good as The Emirates and it’s not beyond the wit of man to make some changes, where we can have temporary facilities on the running track, and they’re removed for the athletics season, no problem.
“We are fully committed to honouring our commitment to the legacy by retaining the athletics facilities.” 

London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe backed the Hammers’ bid to take over the stadium in August after the club announced they pledged to keep a permanent athletics track. 

Vienna: tremendous atmosphere in sold out Ernst Happel 

Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadium also has a running track. When it is sold out (50,000) and Rapid Vienna is playing there the atmosphere is tremendous despite of the track (picture right: Europa League game vs. Besiktas Istanbul). Nevertheless I am (and I think almost every Rapid supporter is) happy that Rapid usually plays at the Hanappi Stadion, a football ground with no running track around it! 

But …  if they could sell out the “Ernst Happel” every week maybe we would think twice… As would West Ham fans if they were 60,000 in every game ???


  1. rapidhammer said...

    Wonder what Kelly Sotherhon thinks about West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium now. That’s what she said some months ago:

    “To have an Olympic stadium turned into a football stadium by a club struggling near the foot of the Premier League, it’s out of order.”
    Kelly Sotherton,
    britische Siebenkampf-Olympia-Dritte 2004

    Read more:
    Join for Real Fans & Real News

    Posted October 12, 2010 at 3:54 PM | Permalink
  2. Sam H said...

    That’s a v good point Wolfgang – I remember having a discussion with her about it on twitter. She did not like the idea at all!

    Posted October 12, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Permalink
  3. Kelly Sotherton (via twitter) in response to rapidhammer:
    “If you recall, west ham didnt want the track and were to get rid of it! Thats not happening now so have no issues.”

    Posted October 12, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Permalink
  4. rapidhammer said...

    Tony Cottee: West Ham fans should be consulted over Olympic track

    Posted October 16, 2010 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

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