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Olympic Stadium In London Could Become Formula One Racing Course

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London's Olympic Stadium's possible conversion to a Formula One Grand Prix course is OK by Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone if permission is granted.
London's Olympic Stadium's possible conversion to a Formula One Grand Prix course is OK by Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone if permission is granted.

Maybe Usain Bolt and the other Olympic sprinters won't be the fastest racers to hit the track at London's Olympic Stadium.

The London Legacy Development Corporation is considering a bid for a Formula One Grand Prix to be run inside and outside the stadium, the BBC reported Tuesday. Two soccer teams, West Ham and Leyton Orient, and a soccer business school are also bidding to call Olympic Stadium home after the Games end.

It seems anything goes in the effort to prevent an Olympic hosting gig from becoming an economic boondoggle. Beijing, host of the 2008 games, will reportedly feel the burden for decades. The city is paying off $471 million for the construction of the Bird's Nest main stadium, one of the few Olympic venues still being used.

The 2004 host, Athens, didn't build its Olympic stadium to easily convert for multiple uses, costing the site dearly. Its lack of turnstiles and heavy security doors contributed to increased violence at a March soccer match, in which Molotov cocktails inflicted heavy damage on the venue, CNN reported.

The Chicago Tribune reports Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said the idea for a post-Olympics stadium race in London came from an outside firm called Intelligent Transport Services.

"If they were to get permission to do it, then we would be more than happy to do something with them," Ecclestone said of the firm. "But we have nothing to do with putting in a bid."

While the F1 idea would appear to be one of the more novel post-Games uses for an Olympic stadium in recent decades, Athens's stadium has also hosted minor racing.

Many Olympic stadiums, such as Sydney's and Beijing's, now house local sports franchises. Among recent North American Olympic venues, Mexico City's became home to an American-style football team and soccer team, both nicknamed the Pumas. Montreal's stadium became the home of MLB's Expos but now has no primary tenant. Los Angeles's continued to house the NFL's Raiders for a time and hosts the USC Trojans football team to this day. Atlanta's became the home of baseball's Braves.

Motorsports events, such as motocross, in which organizers can easily ship in dirt and bales of hay for the course, are commonly held in stadiums. But high-end auto racing requires a lot more conversion and financial commitment.

Perhaps London could take a cue from Amsterdam, the 1928 Olympics host. The Dutch city retooled its stadium into a museum.

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