BBC BLOGS - Adrian Warner

Archives for February 2011

Velodrome set to steal the show in 2012

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Adrian Warner | 11:13 UK time, Tuesday, 22 February 2011

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A couple of years ago I stood in the middle of a big, muddy hole in the ground at the Olympic Park for a live broadcast and attempted to persuade viewers that it was exciting.

It wasn't really. The rain poured down and I'm not sure people watching appreciated that I was standing in the middle of the site where British cyclists will bid for medals in the 2012 Velodrome.

There's no need for imagination now. The Velodrome opened officially today and I think it is going to be the Olympic venue which the world remembers the most when the Games are over.

That's because of its curved roof outside and its fantastic design inside where spectators will be close to the action.

It's funny how the "Pringle" nickname for the building has stuck. People will start rewriting history and claiming they came up with it but this is how it really started.

It was the Press Association reporter Helen William who first said the roof was like a Pringle when the design was first unveiled at a news conference.

Sitting next to her - and ever keen to borrow a decent line for a story - I immediately stole it and mentioned it in a live broadcast an hour or so later. Helen also mentioned it in her report that day.

And now everybody talks about "The Pringle" and I gather the architects have even accepted it - reluctantly. But it all began with Helen's comments.

This is going to be a venue where Britain is hoping to win plenty of medals and I would advise you to get in the ballot for tickets for the action.

The seats go all around the track, which is unusual for cycing venues. And they are going to sell tickets so the fans (and not the media or VIPS) are really close to the action and able to cheer on the riders.

The atmosphere in the Beijing Velodrome wasn't great and London 2012 want to make their venue much better.

And what about the Aquatic Centre? Wasn't it supposed to be the iconic venue?

2012 Aquatics Centre

Well, with respect to the architect Zaha Hadid, I don't think the swimming venue looks as spectacular as the Velodrome because of the added seating stands on both sides.

It is supposed to look like a super-smooth stingray with its curved roof but, to me, it looks like a fish with blow-up armbands at the moment.

It may not be until after the Games, when the stands are removed, that we see the beauty of the Aquatics Centre.

My feeling is the Velodrome will grab all the glory in 2012.

More: BBC London 2012
Twitter: BBCLdnOlympics

West Ham gets 2012 stadium nod but it's not perfect

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Adrian Warner | 21:21 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

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So we have finally got a decision. West Ham will be the preferred bidder of the Olympic Park Legacy Company to take over the 2012 stadium.

As I've said before in these blogs, I've always regarded West Ham as the favourites.

The fact is that Tottenham's plans to rip down the stadium and build a football ground in its place were not only unpopular with athletics fans but also with the public, as our BBC poll last month suggested.

But West Ham's plans are not perfect.

They will need £40m of public money in a loan from Newham Council to help pay for the conversion.

That won't be popular with everybody in the poorest borough in London.

But what also wouldn't have been popular was Tottenham's plans to dismantle a £500m stadium after the Games.

That is what the government and London Mayor Boris Johnson would have found hard to sell to the public.

More: BBC London 2012
Twitter: BBCLdnOlympics

Spurs preparing for life away from "the Lane"

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Adrian Warner | 16:53 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

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Call me old fashioned but White Hart Lane and Tottenham, like England and Twickenham or Steve McClaren and umbrellas, is one of those combinations in sport that seem to belong together.

Even when Arsenal moved to the Emirates, they were really still at Highbury in most people's minds because the nearby Tube station carries the name.

So Tottenham playing anywhere apart from "the Lane" is a big step for anybody of my generation. But our interview with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy suggests it's very likely to happen.

It's quite clear that the bid for the Olympic stadium is now Plan A - a massive moving of the goalposts since I broke the story about Tottenham's interest in heading east last July and the club vehemently denied it.

Tottenham said then that they were committed to building a new stadium near White Hart Lane and pushed ahead for planning permission. Now they are saying those plans are not financially viable.

Now this might be a bargaining tool to get more deals for White Hart Lane but I'm not so sure.

They have certainly been campaigning hard to beat West Ham to the Olympic Stadium. If they win, they will dismantle it and build a football stadium in its place which shares a lot of the same design that was originally planned at White Hart Lane.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady says it would be "a corporate crime to bring the bulldozers in."

Levy counters:

"We are proposing one of the most advanced, state-of-the-art
stadiums in Europe that will deliver an exceptional spectator experience.

"Accusations that we would 'demolish' £500million of stadium are hugely
inaccurate and highly irresponsible and I want to be very clear on this issue. Our proposal will retain around £420million worth of the Olympic Stadium, and
we will re-use or recycle the £80million that will be dismantled with zero landfill."

I've always said in previous blogs that I think West Ham will win this battle but I've also said Tottenham are very serious about their campaign to get the 2012 stadium. Nothing has happened which has changed my mind on this.

But I didn't expect it all to end with Tottenham leaving White Hart Lane.

More: BBC London 2012
Twitter: BBCLdnOlympics

Drinking at London 2012 will feel less 'British'

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Adrian Warner | 11:55 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

Glasses of beer. Getty Images

Fuller's, who make the beer "London Pride" have told me they are "disappointed" that 2012 chiefs have decided not to use a British brewery as an official sponsor.

The Dutch beer Heineken has been appointed as the official supplier for the Games today and it will have exclusive "pouring" rights to bars at Olympic venues.

"Regardless of the decision LOCOG make, London Pride IS the beer of London and everyone at our brewery in Chiswick, West London, is looking forward to welcoming the world to our home city in 2012," Fuller's managing director John Roberts said ahead of the official announcement.

You could argue that the Games could have given a smaller, British brewery the chance to improve their branding worldwide. But 2012 also have to make their money from sponsorship so you can understand why they would go for a bigger international company.

But I have to admit that I would love to have had the opportunity to be drinking English ales at the Games - maybe ordering a pint of "2012" or a couple of "Old Olympians" at the end of a long day. That would have been so British.

And it would have given the Games a really British feel. Now the Olympic bars are going to feel like any other sports event in the world.

But I will definitely have a drink in the Olympic Park in 2012, largely because one of the bars at the media centre will be named after my former boss and dear colleague Steve Parry.

Steve, the ex-sports editor of Reuters who worked on London's bid for the Games, knew more about the Olympic movement than any other journalist I've met. He died suddenly during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Olympic journalistic world misses his wisdom.

BBC London 2012

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