LONDON 2012: Boris Johnson believes Olympic Stadium should stay at 80,000
MAYOR of London Boris Johnson has stirred the pot by publicly stating he believes the London 2012 Olympic Stadium should permanently stay at its current 80,000 capacity.
PEDAL POWER: Mayor of London Boris Johnson gets on his bike at the Olympic velodrome to celebrate two years to go until London 2012 (Getty Images)
Johnson, speaking from inside the stadium, as the countdown to the London 2012 Olympics hit the two-years-to-go barrier, announced how he feels the arena should not be downsized to 25,000 seats, as was the original intention.
"Being here today I feel that it would be a real shame to take this stadium away from its 80,000 capacity," said Johnson.
The post-Games future of the £537 stadium after the Games remains a bone of contention and has significant connotations with regards to the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics.
Upon winning the Games in 2005, London 2012 chairman Lord Sebastian Coe declared the stadium must keep an athletics track, regardless of its future use, in order to stage high-profile track and field events.
The Olympic Park Legacy Company has been charged with resolving the future of the stadium and formally launched the search for interested organisations with more than 100 groups responding.
West Ham United FC are among the front-runners and were yesterday reported as having first refusal for undertaking tenancy, while AEG - the owners of the O2, formerly the Millennium Dome - have also expressed a serious interest.
Should West Ham take the short trip from Upton Park, they are likely to downscale to a more manageable capacity of approximately 50,000, while AEG are also expected to downsize, according to insiders.
But Johnson, only too aware of the financial burden the stadium has had and may continue to have on Londoners, wants to maintain the status quo after the Games in order to stage lucrative sporting and entertainment events - much in the same vein as the new Wembley Stadium.
"We have a number of opportunities on the table," added Johnson. "There have been some 200 suggestions and out of those, three convincing ones."