AEG: Keeping track a disaster

BY foxsports • February 9, 2011

Tim Leiweke, the president of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), insisted the company was very pro-Olympic legacy but that keeping a running track inside a football stadium would be an economic disaster. Spurs/AEG are bidding to take over the stadium after the 2012 Games but would remove the track and rebuild it as a football-only sports venue and to stage concerts. Their rivals bidders are West Ham, who plan to retain the track in line with promises made to the International Olympic Committee when London won the right to host the Games. London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe is among those calling for the track to be maintained, but Leiweke said in the experience of AEG, the world's largest owner of sports teams and entertainment venues, it would not work. Leiweke said: "I believe in the Olympic visionaries including Seb Coe - early on we invested a million dollars in support of London and got a lot of flak in the USA as New York was also bidding. "That said, you should be trying to create a lasting legacy for sport, not just encouraging athletes to participate but events that work. "What they are trying to do is force a legacy for track and field into a venue that won't work for football if it has a track. And guess what - it won't work for track and field either. "People may not like to hear that but you cannot build a 60,000-seat stadium anywhere in the world that works for both. "It would be broke in 10 years." Leiweke said AEG had experience in turning around white elephants, such as the O2 Arena which had previously been losing money as the Millennium Dome, and knew what it took to make it viable. "We told everyone up front our greatest concern was the track and controversial as that is, if you want to make it perfect I believe Tottenham has done this the right way," he added. Tottenham's plan for an athletics legacy is to redevelop the old athletics stadium at Crystal Palace into a 25,000-seat venue, and Leiweke said the key to ensuring that did not lose money was to make sure the scale of the project was right. "It would not work as a £400-500million investment - the key is not to overbuild it, and about the community using it every day."

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