Ian Monk: Stadium bids test legacy message

Putting the best spin on the sell-off of the London Olympics' first and most iconic piece of 'legacy', the stadium itself, poses a comms challenge to those responsible for the Games' credibility.

West Ham, one of the two Premiership football clubs bidding, pays lip service to the Lword by pledging to retain the running track. Tottenham Hotspur's plans are to demolish the stadium after the Games and build a new football stadium on the site. It will also put money towards refurbishing athletics facilities at Crystal Palace.

Legacy has always been key to the image of London 2012. Even in Labour's boom spending years, the rapid trebling of costs to £10bn required justification beyond the month-long Olympiad. Hence the message that the ultimate fulfilment, following British sporting glory, would be a life-changer for generations.

Stunning CGI images projected a brave new world of Corinthian sport for all, a healthier nation and a garden city of affordable and sustainable homes in the new heart of the world's most diverse city.

So what standard does the stadium sale set for legacy? Certainly it recognises the commercial reality that football and not Olympic sports is the real stadium filler. Secondly it shows a willingness by those responsible for the taxpayer-funded Olympiad to deal in the harsh world of sports business.

The most successful club bidding for the stadium, Tottenham Hotspur, wants to bulldoze it in the interests of a sporting property deal. Struggling West Ham - which claims the legacy of being rooted in the Olympic boroughs - faces relegation from the Premier League and an inability to fill the stadium.

Tottenham is parading that most ubiquitous of ambassadors, David Beckham, to further its cause. He has never kicked a ball for the team although convenient but entirely unlikely transfer speculation has linked him to the club.

No wonder they postponed this week's planned decision on the stadium. Casting the Olympic gold for irony obviously requires a little longer.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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