The future of Crystal Palace stadium as a training and competition venue seems secure, for a while at least, with the track which was the home of British athletics for half a century set to stage some important regional meetings in 2017.
London’s then Mayor, Tory buffoon Boris Johnson, together with ex-Olympic champion (and Tory peer) Sebastian Coe had been looking at demolishing the stadium altogether until a local campaign, and reports in Inside Croydon, highlighted the scheme and its inherent hypocrisy.
For while London now has an Olympic Stadium capable of staging next summer’s athletics world championships, that venue – built at Coe’s behest for the 2012 Games at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money – is now given over on the cheap for much of the year to an east London football club run by a Tory peer.
But before the 2012 Games, Crystal Palace had always been part of plans for London’s “Olympic legacy”, continuing to provide essential training and competition facilities for millions of potential future champions in south London, Surrey, Kent and Sussex.
Now, with support from the Greater London Authority and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the 1960s-built facilities have undergone a facelift this winter, with more improvements planned in the new year. The stadium will be staging indoor events in January and February and the South of England championships for senior and young athletes next summer.
According to a report in this week’s edition of Athletics Weekly, Crystal Palace – which staged British Olympic trials from 1968 to 1984 and had a reputation for always hosting capacity 17,000 crowds for its major meets – will continue to stage regional events and may soon be used as the venue for the English Schools’ championships, one of the biggest age group athletics meetings in the world.
“Given the much-publicised issues over the Olympic Stadium, it could also give the sport another option for staging big athletics events in the British capital,” the magazine’s editor, Jason Henderson, said.
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