Olympic Stadium Plans Off Track

England has stopped its bid to host the 2015 World Athletics Championship, not because of funding problems but apparently because of fears that it may clash with whoever operates the Olympic Stadium following the 2012 London Games.

The government has now agreed to underwrite the £45 million cost of staging the event, which it has to do to secure the bid, but UK Athletics has said it’s pulling out to avoid a potential legal battle with the various Premier League soccer teams and concert promoters vying to run the stadium after the Olympics.

The legal pitfalls involve bids for the future use of the stadium. The Olympic Park Legacy Company, which is overseeing the tendering process, required all bidders to include athletics in their plans but it didn’t stipulate the £537 million ($866 million) venue should be capable of holding a World Championship.

“There are a number of bidders in a tightly locked-down commercial negotiation,” sports minister Hugh Robertson told The Daily Telegraph. “If the government changes the parameters of that negotiation half-way through the process, then you open yourself up to judicial challenge.”

There’s also the question of timing. The Olympic Park Legacy Company won’t decide who will run the stadium post-Olympics until March.

Only then will it know the likelihood of being capable of staging the 2015 World Athletics Championship. Bids to stage the games need to be with the International Association Of Athletics Federations by Nov. 20, when it holds its council meeting in Monaco.

Live Nation’s London office has teamed with West Ham United soccer club to make a joint bid to share the stadium. Soccer club chairman David Sullivan originally said he wasn’t happy with the idea of having an athletics track around the soccer pitch, but looks to have resigned himself to it.

AEG president Tim Leiweke, whose company is making a bid in cahoots with the Tottenham Hotspur soccer club, has already acknowledged the team would want to tear up the running track.

“I think it’s a crime if you sacrifice having a perfect football stadium for convincing yourself you are going to do a track and field event every 10 years,” he said.

LN international chief ops officer Paul Latham and Leiweke agree the stadium won’t work if its revenues are to come only from staging track and field meetings. Both bids would more likely depend on revenues from soccer and live music.

The West Ham-Live Nation bid would appear to be the favourite because it appears more flexible regarding the running track. But Latham may have other reasons of being suspicious of any bid involving Tottenham.

Apart from finding it distasteful to ally himself with Tottenham because he supports north London arch-rivals Arsenal, he’ll be aware it also has planning permission to build a new stadium next to its current ground at White Hart Lane.

It may be Tottenham would only look at moving its ground five miles to the east if the cost of fulfilling the planning conditions at White Hart Lane turned out to be prohibitive.