The Council is set to borrow an additional £3 million to pay for the refurbishment of the Waterworld swimming and fitness centre at Monks Cross.
In addition Council officials are now asking Councillors to agree to release £4 million of taxpayer’s money for the Community Stadium project. Previously this £4 million had been earmarked as a loan, with the new facility expected to generate income which would see the debt paid off early in its life. The business case figures, published by the Council yesterday, now show only a surplus of £83,000 a year on the stadium – insufficient to meet the debt repayment costs.
Subject to planning permission being granted, the developers of the nearby John Lewis and M&S stores will contribute £14.85 million to public works and the stadium.
Including the value of the existing stadium (£4 million), the taxpayer’s investment now looks to be heading for a figure of over £10 million. This is far higher than was planned by the Liberal Democrat led Council when it started the process over 3 years ago.
However this might be offset by the sale of Bootham Crescent on which the Council now intends to take out a charge to secure its interests. However 2 preferential charges already exist on the ground. Bootham Crescent has recently been valued at only £800,000 as a site for new housing.
Swimming facilities do require regular updates and Waterworld is now 14 years old. However the scale of the public investment required will comes as a surprise to many and what is still a relatively new building. The Council claims that it may recover some of the investment when it appoints a new company to manage the facility (the existing managers are said to be making a loss on the operation).
£2 million is to be spent on a new athletics stadium at the University (replacing the Huntington Stadium track). This is £500,000 more than originally budgeted, partly because it now includes a 500 seater stand and extensive clubroom facilities.
Apart from the costs, the business case for the community stadium being presented to the Council’s “cabinet” next week has changed little over the last 3 years. One change is a promise to invest in a “training pitch and reserve team venue” for the Rugby Club. The costs are budgeted at £750,000and one of the options being considered is to upgrade the facilities at the Acorn Club at Thanet Road.
The stadium opening date is now put at early 2015.
The Council badly need to get experienced business and project management on the case or – as seems to be happening with the new council HQ where fitting out costs look to be going out of control – this project could become a major burden on taxpayers.
Overall though the Community Stadium should be a major benefit to the City.