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London Church Offers to Bale Out Olympic Crisis with GBP 36.2m Arena

LONDON, August 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Kingsway International Christian Centre, one of Europe's fastest growing churches with a congregation of thousands which faces losing its 9.5-acre site for the 2012 Olympic complex, has announced that it is prepared to contribute towards the cost of the Games. This follows press reports of a GBP 1 billion funding gap between committed funds for the Games and its real cost.

KICC is one of around 300 landowners and businesses in the area that the London Development Agency has earmarked for the Olympic park. In its first public announcement since London won the bid, KICC's Senior Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo says: "The LDA require our land to build the Olympic complex. We have been seeking permission to build an Arena on our land, and believe it was turned down because London was bidding to host the 2012 Olympics.

"Even before London won the bid, we were working with the LDA to identify an alternative site - but the four sites we have been shown so far are inappropriate or will not be available in time. In addition, we have researched another 21 potential sites.

"Despite our concerns, we have chosen not to protest because we believe that the Olympics will be great for London. But the LDA appear to be dragging their feet, and we cannot afford the risk of our 12,000-strong congregation being left homeless.

"We have been considering a number of creative solutions - one of which involves KICC building one of the planned Olympic arenas. Of course, we would move out to allow the Games to take place, and then move back in when the event is over.

"We believe that London won the bid to host the Games particularly because Lord Coe and his team presented a complete strategy that focused not just on the two weeks of the Games, but also on leaving a legacy for London. KICC could be part of that legacy.

"Our planning consultants have costed this, and we believe our offer is worth GBP 36.2 million. This is a significant percentage of the funding deficit and would provide a win-win solution for both KICC and the London Olympic Games. It is our sincere hope that the LDA will engage with us to explore this workable solution to conclusion."

Notes to Editors:

1. KICC is an independent, interdenominational and international church, the largest in Western Europe. The main church is based in Hackney on a 9.5-acre facility that includes a 4,000-seater auditorium.

2. Up to 12,000 people attend KICC services every Sunday. In addition to the main church, KICC has five UK branches and 16 Sunday chapels across London and the South East.

3. KICC's many community services and activities include a Hopeline telephone service, educational counselling, support for homeless people in London and the annual KICC Champions Awards, which recognise and reward 'unsung' heroes in Hackney.

4. KICC is a major provider of Christian programmes to radio and TV stations that broadcast to millions of people across the world.

SOURCE Kingsway International Christian Centre

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