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Olympics: West Ham to take over London stadium - club

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

English Premier League football club West Ham United are to become the main tenants of London's Olympic Stadium, it was announced on Friday.

The 80,000 capacity stadium in east London, which hosted the athletics events and the ceremonies last year's Olympics and Paralympics, will be converted to a 54,000-seater venue in time for the 2016-2017 football season.

"It's fantastic for everyone at West Ham United that at last all the club's hard work over the past three years has paid off," the club's joint chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson added at the long-awaited announcement: "This is a truly momentous milestone for London's spectacular Olympic Stadium ensuring its credible and sustainable future.

"Through this deal with West Ham United FC, we are defying the gloomsters who predicted this landmark would become a dusty relic."

The long-term future of the £429 million ($648-million, 503-million-euro) venue in Stratford was supposed to have been decided before last year's Games but a series of legal challenges delayed the process.

The stadium will have retractable seats around the pitch, which will allow the 2017 World Athletics Championships to take place there as planned.

The deal also opens the way for the stadium to be used as a venue for the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup.

The deal was clinched after the government agreed to put in an extra £25 million towards the £150 million cost of converting the venue.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/olympics-west-ham-take-over-london-stadium-club