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Other Sports - 16. February 2009.

UK public to pay for 2012 stadium upkeep

www.sportbusiness.com


Public money will be used to maintain London’s Olympic stadium after the 2012 Games because organisers have failed in their bid to find a commercial operator to take it over.

The Times newspaper reports that it will cost at least £800,000 per year to keep open. It says the government has failed to find a football or rugby club interested in becoming an ‘anchor tenant’. The Times says one of the reasons football clubs are not interested is because the stadium’s design means fans would be too far from the action on the pitch.

UK government ministers announced plans yesterday for public use of the Olympics park after the Games. The Guardian newspaper reports that these include an ‘Olympic university’ which will provide vocational training and research, a sports academy in the main stadium, and two secondary schools and three primary schools serving a 10,000 home community. The Guardian says that public money will be pumped into the development to prevent the park becoming a ‘white elephant’.

London Mayor Boris Johnson remains upbeat that the stadium itself will represent a good legacy for athletics in the UK. “There were insuperable obstacles to do with the shape and it would have cost far more in the end to create a stadium suitable for Premier League football, even if there was one [a club] willing to come to the table,” Times quoted him as saying. “But we will have a world-class facility, which will be a wonderful thing for British athletics.”

The Times says that Olympic chiefs privately concede that the stadium will never be profitable. However in the long term, government ministers predict that other venues in the Olympic park, such as a multi-sports arena, an aquatics centre and a velodrome, will make enough money to offset the stadium's losses. The park as a whole is expected to begin making a profit between five and ten years after 2012.

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