County news March 30, 2012

Essex bid for Olympic Stadium

Essex have applied for the right to become tenants of the Olympic Stadium after London 2012. The club, based in Chelmsford, have made a joint bid with the University of East London to use what will become a 60,000 seater venue after the games.

While the club would rarely utilise the venue for first-class games - it is most unlikely a division two championship clash with Derbyshire would attract 60,000 - Essex do have an excellent record of generating T20 audiences and regularly sell-out their Chelmsford ground, which has a capacity of 6,500. The Olympic Stadium's situation in heavily populated east London therefore makes it an attractive proposition.

A statement from Essex read: "We can confirm that the University of East London and Essex County Cricket Club have jointly put in a bid to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to utilise space in the Olympic Stadium.

"We cannot provide any further detail at this stage, as we are bound by a legal confidentiality agreement. We see this as a fantastic opportunity and are committed to supporting the achievement of the best possible outcomes from the legacy operation of the Olympic Stadium."

Essex have confirmed, however, that they have no intentions of moving from their home at the Ford County Ground in Chelmsford.

"It is very important we make it clear to people that we have no intention of moving from Chelmsford," Essex's chief executive, David East told ESPNcricinfo. "This is our home and we are actively pursuing the redevelopment of the ground.

"We also have a responsibility to develop the game in east London. We look after five boroughs - including Newham, the location of the stadium - and we have coaching and scouting programmes in place there already. Strategically this would be a very good move for us."

West Ham United were awarded the stadium in a partnership with Newham Council in October, but the deal collapsed after complaints from rival football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient.

As a result, OPLC decided the venue would remain in public ownership and retain its athletic capabilities. They subsequently opened a new bidding process to find a tenant - or tenants - which closed on March 23. It is understood that there were four bids.

West Ham, should they win the bid, are not thought to be hostile to any application from Essex to use the stadium for a limited number of cricket fixtures.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo