Spurs bid 'best solution' - Lee

BY foxsports • February 8, 2011

Lee was a key figure in London's successful bid to host the Games, alongside Sebastian Coe, but the pair have found themselves on opposite sides in the debate over how best to ensure a legacy for the centrepiece venue. West Ham are also in the running to inhabit the stadium once the Games are over and would keep the running track as part of a 60,000-capacity stadium. Tottenham, meanwhile, would demolish the track and bid to contribute to an athletics legacy elsewhere by helping to redevelop Crystal Palace. While Coe has publicly backed West Ham's bid on the basis that he feels a "moral obligation" to retain a multi-sports venue, Lee - a former Hammers board member - is advising Spurs in their rival bid. Speaking to the Guardian, he said of the West Ham proposals: "If you're not in a great football stadium it affects your experience and your willingness to come week in, week out. "The long-term future of athletics is also important. And we know that football and athletics don't work as a combination. Bayern Munich didn't have a great time in their Olympic stadium and athletics hasn't really worked there since the [1972] Games. Espanyol were also happy to move out of Barcelona's Olympic Stadium. "I genuinely think London has an opportunity to create the greatest Olympic Park ever. I'm not saying it's a simple decision. But if you duck difficult decisions when it comes to the legacy of these great sporting events you're in danger of creating a white elephant. In Olympic history those cities that have ducked difficult decisions have ended up regretting it. "The Spurs and AEG link is economically very strong. I've long been convinced their combination, coupled with Spurs' pledge to build an athletics venue at Crystal Palace, is the best solution. "One of the reasons why the story matters to me personally is that the West Ham board I advised wanted the Olympic Stadium to be built with retractable seats - so you could have a purpose-built stadium with the flexibility to host athletics. We believed you had to have a bespoke football stadium for a Premier League club. "Even before any contact with Spurs I thought, 'My goodness, that looks a sensible solution - as long as they also provide an athletics legacy.' If Spurs had come to this bid without their Crystal Palace athletics proposal I could not have worked with them." Lee was also involved with Rio de Janeiro's successful bid for the 2016 Olympics and again as Qatar were awarded the 2022 football World Cup, but admits his experience has not helped him predict whether Spurs will be successful this time around. "In these campaigns you're never quite sure," he said. "If you look at London, Rio and Qatar, I didn't feel sure until the envelope had been opened and the name announced. This decision is completely with the Legacy Company and their thinking is not complete. I still have no idea what they're going to decide."

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