1:30pm Thursday 31st January 2013
By Andrew Bloss
The National Sports Centre has lost its flagship event, casting fresh doubts over its long term future.
The London Diamond League meeting, which was a guaranteed sell out for the venue in Crystal Palace Park, has been relocated to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for 2013.
It is understood that the event will return to the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace Park in 2014, it will then be based at the Olympic Stadium from 2015.
Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Oscar Pistorius and Asafa Powell are just some of the star athletics names that have graced the track at Crystal Palace over the years.
More than 40,000 flock to the event- seen as the highlight of the UK athletics calendar- every year.
Several major bands have also played at the Stadium, with Coldplay selling out the venue in 2005.
Now the decision to axe its biggest yearly event leaves a question mark over the future use of the stadium, as well as being a big blow for the surrounding area.
Crystal Palace football club are interested in renovating the stadium but residents are against the idea.
John Payne, chairman of the Crystal Palace Community Association, said the future looks bleak for the stadium.
He said: "It is a very sad day. Quite what the future holds, like the park's masterplan, is really anybody’s guess.
"The problem with keeping it as a athletics stadium is there are a limited number of events you can put on."
Mike Fleet, who is the coaching secretary at Croydon Harriers, raced at the stadium’s opening in 1964.
He said: "We loved having the event here. I can imagine young athletes from the area have been inspired over many years about some of the performances that have happened there.
"I would be really sad if it all went as we would lose a training facility as well as a good venue."
Tim Sharville, Chairman of the Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce, said the loss of the event was a blow to businesses in the area.
He said: "Any attractions such as this moving away from Crystal Palace is not good for business. We want events like this staying in the area."
Greenwich Leisure Limited, who run the sports centre said they are in active discussions with UK Athletics about hosting athletics events in the future at the venue.
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