(R90) Greater London Authority, Mayor of London, Sport England, London Borough of Bromley, London Development Agency - 24 February 2004

Grand Prix saved for London as

Crystal Palace Sports Centre stays open

The 2004 Grand Prix athletics will stay at Crystal Palace it was confirmed today, as details of a deal which will enable the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace to stay open pending a major overhaul were announced by the Minister for Sport, the Mayor of London, the London Development Agency, the London Borough of Bromley, and Sport England.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was facilitated by the Mayor and Richard Caborn, Sport England will take a further two year lease of the Crystal Palace Sports Centre, so that the centre can remain open whilst the London Development Agency draw up detailed plans for a redeveloped or replacement sports centre. This will allow work to start on re-surfacing the track at Crystal Palace stadium to bring the facility up to the necessary standards for hosting the Grand Prix in the summer. The LDA will take over the lease of the National Sports centre in two years' time and has also taken an option to take over the running of the Park within five years.

The LDA will immediately start working with local groups and stakeholders to produce plans for an enhanced sports centre and Park.

Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport said;

"Crystal Palace is an important part of our sporting heritage. I am glad that this government - in partnership with the GLA, the LDA, Bromley Council and Sport England - has managed to find a solution for its future. This means that Crystal Palace will continue to provide its facilities not just for the excellent Grand Prix event, but on a daily basis to both the London community and our top level athletes."

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London said;

"This is great news for sport in London, and great news for the area. We now have an opportunity to turn the run-down and under-used stadium, sports centre and park into a new heart for South London.

"The deal also means that the Grand Prix athletics event will now go ahead at Crystal Palace this summer, which is good news for London's Olympic bid. I am pleased to announce today that we will once again support the UK's premier athletics event, which with its famously electric atmosphere makes an excellent advert for London."

Honor Chapman, Chair of the London Development Agency said;

"We now have the opportunity to create an imaginative, long term future for the Sports Centre and Park which will not only benefit the immediate area but South London as a whole. The Sports Centre and Park are an important regional facility in an area of high unemployment, which we anticipate will become a catalyst for jobs and regeneration.

"Under the terms of the agreement the London Development Agency will contribute towards the running costs of the Crystal Palace Sports Centre enabling Sport England to take a further two year lease of the Centre."

Russell Mellor, Leader of Bromley Council, said:

"This deal is a win for the park and the whole Crystal Palace area. It will build on the successes of the regeneration schemes of the last seven years and bring real benefits for local people. Bromley Council, together with residents and neighbouring boroughs, will continue to be actively involved in the discussions around the park's future. Bromley will also work towards ensuring that the sports centre plays its part in London's plans for the 2012 Olympics."

Patrick Carter Chair of Sport England said;

"Sport England has worked hard with its partners, the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Bromley, to secure the best future for Crystal Palace. This announcement is great news for both the local community and elite athletes who can continue to use the sporting facilities at Crystal Palace while a replacement sports centre is being planned.

"Our funding of the track refurbishment for the Grand Prix also reflects Sport England's complete backing and support for the London 2012 Olympic bid."

For further information please contact;

Mayor's Press Office - Catherine Mattison / Anna Macmillan 020 7983 4020 / 6550
London Development Agency - Jane Ball / Sarita Bhatia 020 7954 4552 / 4087
London Borough of Bromley - Tom Horwood 020 8313 4415
Sport England - Kasia Reardon 020 7273 1591

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

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24/2/04 Last updated 24/2/04