News24

Olympic Stadium name for sale

2011-12-20 20:30

London - The Olympic Stadium in London might only be around for about four months - at least in name.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company, which is in charge of securing the stadium's future after the 2012 Games, is trying to sell the naming rights for the £486 m pound facility.

The closing ceremony of the Paralympics on May 9 could be the last time an event is staged in the Olympic Stadium before being renamed - four months after the first official test event.

A sponsor is being sought to help cover the £95 m cost of converting the 80 000-seat stadium to a 60 000-seat venue.

"(Naming rights) goes with the territory. We'd like to think very quickly there's a new iconic name," Olympic Park Legacy Company executive director Duncan Innes told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We know the use of the Olympic brand has time limits to it."

The OPLC is competing to secure a sponsor at the same time that Premier League clubs Chelsea and Tottenham look to find sponsors for their stadiums.

"One of the advantages of the public sector retaining ownership of the stadium and the Olympic Park is that we have the ability to secure naming rights across the park, not just the stadium," Innes said.

The OPLC hopes to have signed a deal by the time a tenant is announced in May and for the downsized stadium to reopen in 2014.

A deal for second-tier football club West Ham to take over the stadium collapsed in October amid legal challenges from Tottenham and third-tier club Leyton Orient, as well as an anonymous complaint to the European Commission about the process.

Instead, under the new process launched on Tuesday, tenants can bid to rent the stadium for between 5 and 99 years.

Innes said the stadium's future is not dependent on renting to a football club.

"We have had interest from a couple of Premiership rugby clubs," Innes said. "West Ham are on the record as saying they could well be interested (again) ... If you look at winter sports, it's limited to two because of the pitch damage. You could look at the football and rugby combo."

The stadium would also be suitable for cricket and American football, which has played regular-season NFL games at Wembley in recent years and is exploring opening a London franchise.

"We have had very preliminary conversations with (the NFL)," Innes said. "It's the sort of event that can fill the stadium and really bring some profile to it."

The facilities to host athletics must be retained, with the stadium hosting the world championships in 2017 and the London leg of the Diamond League moving there from Crystal Palace in South London in 2014.

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