Tony Cottee Column: Olympic Stadium is the perfect platform for West Ham
“I believe once Hammers fans see the detailed plans, any doubters will soon change their minds.”
Following a fantastic summer of British sport, a lot of which took place at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the focus has changed to what happens next in terms of the spectacular venues inside the Olympic Park.
We all know that West Ham have put in a bid to become the tenants of the Olympic Stadium and right from the word go I have been a strong supporter of the move.
It is a difficult decision for me, as I have so many fond memories of Upton Park both as a player and a fan, but I just feel that in order to progress on to the next level, we have to move to the Olympic Stadium.
Increasing the capacity would mean that more West Ham fans would be able to come and watch the team that they love, and the board have already said that they would make ticket prices more affordable to families.
The reason that Upton Park is not a complete sell-out week in, week out is that tickets are highly priced, but that would change if the Hammers’ moved.
One key point that I hope the club have played hard ball with is the retractable seating.
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I think that the running track being on display would not be acceptable for the fans, for the players and for the club.
We live in the 21st entury and there are always solutions to these problems and I am sure that if we were awarded the stadium it would become a world class home and we would be the envy of the rest of the teams in the Premier League.
If the club are successful in their bid, I believe any fans that doubt the move would change their minds as soon as they saw the detailed plans.
The club are sworn to secrecy at the moment and they don’t want any images getting leaked while the bidding process is underway, but if West Ham win the rights to the stadium and everyone sees the plans, I think every fan will be happy.
I know some fans have a concern about the club losing its history, and it is true that we will be losing the ground where many past events have happened, but we would also be moving closer to our spiritual home, and actually closer to West Ham.
We would be staying in the borough, moving two-and-a-half miles down the road, and moving on to bigger and better things.
The facilities and transport links would be unrivalled – Stratford station is the best linked station in the whole of Europe.
At the moment, fans from all over the country find it hard to get to West Ham games, that would simply be a thing of the past.
There would be no worrying about where to park the car near the stadium as you wouldn’t need to.
Even Hammers fans from as far afield as France and Germany would be easily able to come and watch home games, it will open up a whole new market of supporters.
Some are questioning whether West Ham could fill a stadium with 60,000 fans week in, week out, and I don’t agree with this.
Obviously a lot depends on the pricing as I mentioned earlier, but I am certain for the big games against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal the ground would be full.
The away teams would also get large allocations, perhaps 6,000, and then for the less glamorous games I am sure the club will continue to operate the highly successful kids for a quid scheme.
I think the positives far outweigh any negatives over the potential move to Stratford, and for the good of the club as a whole we should embrace the move.
I am not saying the move to the Olympic Stadium will guarantee West Ham to challenge for the Premier League title, but it would definitely make the club a highly attractive one to play for.
And then who knows.
Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John