Olympic Stadium naming rights to be sold soon

Rob Harris, AP Sports Writer

West Ham United Football Club players from left, captain Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble, Joe Cole and Mohamed Diame pose for the photographers at the Olympic Stadium in London, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. Construction continues in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Stadium to transform it into a year round multi-use venue, the permanent home of West Ham United Football Club and the new national competition stadium for UK Athletics. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

LONDON (AP) -- A naming rights deal for the Olympic Stadium in London is expected to be sealed within a year.

Premier League club West Ham will become the main tenant from the 2016-17 season after the principal 2012 Olympics venue is overhauled to make it suitable for soccer.

West Ham vice chair Karren Brady said Wednesday that there's been "overwhelming worldwide interest" from potential sponsors, and ruled out a naming rights deal with contentious companies, including money lending businesses.

"The types of companies who across the world are interested are the type that would make a wonderful contribution," Brady said inside the stadium.

Dennis Hone, the chief executive of the company in charge of securing a future for the Olympic Park, said he expects a deal to be concluded in the next year.

The London Legacy Development Corporation wants the stadium to be used for sports other than soccer and track throughout the year. But on the prospects of American football, Hone said there have been "no active discussions with NFL for over a year."

The 80,000-seat stadium, which hosted the track and field competition at the 2012 Olympics, is being downsized to 54,000 seats and reconfigured with a new roof and retractable seats to cover the running track.

By the time it partly re-opens for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the stadium could be hard to recognize compared to its Olympics.

Work is underway to remove the triangular floodlights, described by the legacy company as "iconic," although a similar design will feature in the revamped stadium.

Initially, after London was awarded the Olympics in 2005, organizing chief Sebastian Coe and the British government rejected calls for the stadium to be designed so soccer could be played in it after the games.

Only when construction was underway did officials decide to allow soccer to use the stadium, adding to the cost of its post-Olympics transformation.

The conversion costs are expected to hit $323 million, although West Ham will only contribute $24 million as part of its 99-year lease deal.