BBC Essex has been informed that Essex County Cricket Club, together with the University of East London, has applied for the right to become occupants of the 80,000-capacity Olympic commercial property stadium after the London 2012 Games.
The commercial property cricket club have confirmed they have made an approach to “utilise space in the Olympic Stadium.”
While the club would rarely use the commercial property for first-class games – it is most unlikely a division two championship clash with Derbyshire would attract 60,000. Essex does have an excellent record of creating T20 audiences and on a regular basis sell-out their commercial property Chelmsford ground, which has a capacity of 6,500. The Olympic Stadium’s situation in heavily populated east London consequently makes it a striking proposition.
The duo is the fourth party to launch a proposal.
West Ham United confirmed they were one of the contenders last Friday, which was the closing date for applications. Rugby clubs Wasps, London Irish and Saracens decided not to bid.
Essex County Cricket Club said in a statement: “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.”
They further added: “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.”
West Ham was originally awarded the stadium in a partnership with Newham Council in October last year; however the contract fell through following objections from rival clubs Leyton Orient and Tottenham Hotspur.
The OPLC later decided the venue would remain in public ownership, retaining the athletics amenities, and opened a new bidding process to find a new occupant, which ended last week. It is not known at this stage whether the application from UEL and Essex, who are based in Stratford, combines a cricket playing field with the athletics track.
Commercial property Melbourne Cricket Ground was temporarily altered to accommodate field and track sports for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
County Championship Division Two side Essex play in Chelmsford at present, their home for 87 years, and declared profits of over £300,000 for 2011. Though, that amount included “exceptional income” from the England and Wales Cricket Board to cover the cost of earlier ground improvements.
Essex had previously explored the possibility of a joint bid with Newham Council and West Ham during the original submission process.