London 2012 searching for more venue tenants

With the future of the main Olympic Stadium still undecided, London organizers are now looking for tenants to take over two other major venues after the 2012 Games.

Companies have until March 23 to bid for 10-year contracts to run the swimming center and handball arena, which are both at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

The $475 million aquatics center will stage swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and part of the modern pentathlon during the Olympics.

The distinctive 525-foot long sweeping roof — designed by Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid — is considered the signature design feature of the Olympic Park.

The 17,500-seat arena will be scaled down to a 2,500-capacity venue after the Olympics. It will contain two 50-meter pools with moveable floors, a diving pool and a dry-land training area.

The venue that will host handball will be adapted into a 7,500-seat facility that could be a venue for sports such as boxing, plus concerts and conventions, but local community groups want it to become a public facility.

The bidding process for the upkeep of the park itself after the games has also opened.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company on Monday halted the decision on whether Tottenham or Premier League rival West Ham should take control of the main stadium amid a heated public debate.

West Ham would convert the stadium into a 60,000-capacity venue for soccer and athletics, whereas Tottenham planned to rebuild the stadium to remove the athletics track, bringing condemnation from Olympic and athletics executives who want a legacy for their sport after the games are finished.

Malcolm Ross, an executive director at the Olympic Park Legacy Company, described proposals to tear down or radically redesign the venues after the games as "innovative, creative solutions" and said he won't be distracted by public arguments.

"I don't get lost with all the noise," Ross told The Associated Press inside the handball arena. "It's telling us all that there is a tremendous, passionate interest in the 2012 Games ... we have got very clear criteria on all our venues about how we are going to select the very best operators."

Asked if a potential operator of the handball arena could demolish it, Ross responded: "That certainly won't be necessary."