Olympic stadium pitch to be ripped up after Games

The £486m centrepiece of the Olympic Park has been built without the under-soil heating required in England to stage top football matches.

West Ham would have footed the bill of up to £2m to install a new pitch with under-soil heating but its long-term tenancy agreement was ripped up last year due to legal challenges.

Instead the Olympic Park Legacy Company has revealed that it will have to pay for the pitch changes because the stadium will remain in public ownership and be rented out to various companies after the Games.

“The Olympic Stadium is a white elephant and they now have to spend money to stop it being a white elephant,” the London Assembly member Andrew Boff said.

Renting the stadium to a football club is vital to ensuring the stadium’s long-term viability despite it originally being designed primarily to stageathletics events.

The need for under-soil heating was highlighted when a Six Nations rugby match between France and Ireland was called off earlier this month because the Stade de France in Paris lacked such a facility.

Premier League rules state that a club must have “an under-soil heating system or some adequate system of pitch protection to the reasonable satisfaction of the board” to stage matches. About £35m has already been earmarked under the Olympic budget to downsize the stadium from an 80,000 to a 60,000-seat facility after the Games.

Sixteen companies have expressed an interest in bidding for the use of the stadium after the Olympics, including West Ham, and have until 23 March to submit formal bids. The winning bid will be announced in May but the stadium will not be ready until 2014.

One certainty is that the running track will remain in the stadium regardless of the outcome, with London awarded the 2017 world athletics championships.

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