It is understandable that residents want to know when the £42 million community stadium complex will be fully open for business.
Taxpayers will point out that around £10 million of the costs have come out of their pockets.
Originally scheduled for a 2012 opening, delays dogged the project.
Even after contracts had been signed for a June 2019 opening “labour shortages”
meant that the actual stadium opening was put back to the autumn 2019 and then
to the Spring 2020.
It seemed that the dates were firming up as the IMAX cinema admitted its first paying customers before Christmas while an excitable gaggle of Councillors started tweeted pictures of the “finished” stadium.
The Knights Rugby Club said that their first home fixture of the new season would take place at the stadium on 9th February. The stadium was also set to host a big “double header” with Super League clubs Toronto and Wakefield facing off on the 22nd March.
Questions at a York City supporters forum led to a statement from an executive councillor last week who confirmed that a transport plan was in place. It would get large crowds to the out of town, 8000 capacity, stadium site. (Currently, York City matches attract around 2500 spectators)
However, it remained unclear whether joint entry/transport tickets would be sold and information about public transport capacity was scarce, given that the opening (rugby) fixture was less than a month away.
A “trial” dinner event was then cancelled, and the Knights said that their 9th February fixture might have to be moved to Bootham Crescent.
We think that the stadium will be an asset for the City. When the interest level stabilises, after the first couple of games, transport arrangements should also be adequate.
We are less convinced about the viability of some of the other elements of the development not least the additional swimming pool.
But we are, where we are.
The Council and its contractors should now be able to give a clear programme of actions leading up to firm commissioning and hand-over dates.
NB. Local side York Acorn Rugby got off to a winning start
on Saturday in their cup match against Hammersmith Hills Hoist. The score line
was 36 points to 14. There were no problems accommodating the crowd at the Thanet
Road Stadium (!)
Could the Council fund an upgrade of the Thanet Road Sports area?
The future of the all weather games (MUGA) provision in the Kingsway part of York remains unclear. Sport England – with the backing of local Netball and Football governing bodies – is insisting that, if the present facility is removed, then a similar provision must be made nearby.
In effect, Sport England have a veto over new developments if they involve the loss of sports fields. They can insist that a development application is referred to the Secretary of Sate for a decision.
The Foxwood Residents Association has also voiced its concerns claiming that a fitness trail – planned by officials for Chesney’s Field – would not meet the informal sports/leisure needs of the 8 – 13 age group. Instead they urge that discussions take place with the Acorn Rugby Club aimed at funding improvements, and wider access, to the floodlit area that is already in place on the Thanet Road Sports area.
York Council officials are being particularly stubborn on this issue. It is putting at risk a plan to modernise the sheltered housing flats at Lincoln Court.
Some flexibility, urgency and imagination in addressing the issues now needs to be shown by both Councillors and officers at West Offices.
We understand hat several residents complained about noise coming from an event taking pace at the Acorn Rugby ground yesterday (Sunday evening). The source of the complaint seems to have been bands playing outdoors. They stopped at 9:00pm.
We understand that this was a charity event although it is unclear whether it formed part of the councils summer holidays “Shine” programme as stated on publicity posters.
It is the second time that complaints about events at the rugby ground have been made. The organisers of another charity event, held in August, had resorted to sellotaping posters to the outside of local noticeboards, causing damage in one case. (information is posted within the noticeboards upon request)
Fly posting is often a source of complaint when fairs visit Thanet Road (as they will shortly).
New licensing arrangements, introduced a few years ago, mean that organisations no longer have to apply for special licences to organise events like these. Instead they rely on a general license issued on request by the Council to land owners. (in this case the land is owned by the Council but it is on a long lease to the club).
Licences can be revoked if terms and conditions are not observed.
In this case, the frequency of outdoor events may be approaching the point where the license could be reviewed.