It seems that, despite all the delays, the position for those wanting to park at the new Community Stadium car park remains confused
Although “Better Leisure” tell drivers on their web site to buy a match day ticket in advance from either the Knights or (later in the summer) York City FC, there appears to be no on-line purchase option currently available. This could lead to unnecessary parking in nearby residential areas although many will no doubt restrict their stay to the 2 hour maximum currently enforced across the site.
Any issues need to be sorted out quickly now. Not everyone is yet comfortable with using public transport while car parking income from the 400 allocated match day spaces, is needed to help balance the books on the hugely expensive project.
A response to a Freedom of Information request has made the ongoing costs of running the Community Stadium clearer.
The cost of the project has escalated over the years. The scheme, in 2011, was intended to be self funding. The stadium construction would have been paid for by the developer of the neighbouring retail centre. A £16 million budget was set aside as part of a section 106 agreement.
However, it became clear in February 2021 that the Council would in addition have to borrow £16.5 million to fund the completion of the project.
The Council has made what is known as a “minimum revenue provision” (MRP) in its revenue budget of around 7% to cover interest and principal repayments on the borrowing.
This represents an annual liability of around £1.2 million.
To this must be added the running costs.
So the cost to Council taxpayers will be around £1.6 million in total this year. Most of the costs will be ongoing. By way of comparison, the contract for running all York’s libraries is £2.4 million a year.
The FOI response makes it clear that the budget does not make any provision for compensatory payments to GLL to make up for lost income during the lockdown. In other parts of the country COVID grants and loans to leisure contractors have been controversial. click
Of course, GLL do have liabilities. The Yearsley swimming pool, as a stand alone facility, has always been subsidised. The pool continues to provide a unique facility for fitness swimmers and must be sustained.
But elsewhere in the City the organisation has been criticised for losing contact with the needs of local communities. High admission charges at Energise – which lies in the middle of one of the poorest York neighbourhoods – remain an barrier for some potential users.
The Council seems to have left itself with insufficient opportunities to attract additional income from the stadium complex to help offset its investment and borrowing costs.
The project should be subject to an independent review.
This service has run into financial difficulties as bus patronage fell during the pandemic. The service is used by staff and patients to access the Hospital, while avoiding congestion and parking charges, in the Wigginton Road area. The subsidy only lasts until the end of March 2021 so what happens to the service after that is unclear.
Originally it was hoped that the link would reduce car usage in and near the City centre.
Tonight sees what may be the first game for York City at the Community Stadium.
It will be a behind closed doors event.
With the National League North likely to be abandoned before the end of the month, it may also prove to be the last football match there until late summer.
£63,000 has been allocated for new bus service links to the stadium. Although there would be little point in introducing such links while the ban on spectators remains, they would be a welcome addition when things return to “normal”.
Hopefully the government will extend the availability of the subsidy so it can be used during the 2021/22 financial year.
The first to benefit may be York Knights fans who hope that limited attendances might be permitted during the latter part of their campaign which starts in March.
The Council has finally admitted that the £46.2 million budget for the York Community Stadium will be overspent by £1.2 million.
Taxpayers had already taken a hit late last year when a payment for the lease of the commercial element of the scheme was reduced by £1.4 million.
It now looks like the final taxpayers bill will be £17 million.
When the scheme was originally conceived in 2010, it was expected that a contribution of £16.7 million from the developer of the neighbouring Vanguard shopping area, would cover the stadium construction costs. This has proved not to be the cases as costs escalated in the intervening years.
The Council says that part of the cost will be offset by lower management payments this year to the operator (GLL)
A reportgoes on to say that the opening of the facility has “added internal costs that were not originally budgeted. The facility was originally due to open in Summer 2019 so the council has needed to retain the project team”.
The Council also says that there were changes to the design during the course of construction (additional signage, site boundary issues and cladding) which also added costs totally £458k.
The Council is hoping to get some compensation for the construction delays.
The stadium was 18 months late and has still not, because of COVID-19 regulations – been brought into use,
The recent media focus in York about the new Community Stadium has tended to draw attention away from the City’s leisure centres. The future needs to be clarified as the pandemic seems likely to prevent their early reopening.
The centres have been managed by GLL “Better Leisure “ since 2017.
They took over the “Energise” facility on Cornlands Road, the Yearsley swimming pool and – more recently – the new Burnholme and Monks Cross centres. For a short time they had managed the “Waterworld” facility at Monks Cross but it had closed against a background of declining attendances.
The decision to outsource the Council owned facilities was a controversial one. Essentially what had been a Labour controlled Council wanted to minimise the financial risk for taxpayers. The deal that was set up gave the social enterprise provider ample scope to make profits from its new estate.
There have been continuing grumbles about the Energise/Better site with many feeling that charges are too high to be attractive in one of the less well off parts of the City.
In common with similar facilities elsewhere, GLL have been forced to close due to the lockdown (s).
This has presented them with the problem of ongoing expense but no customers. Most of their staff have been “furloughed” and buildings mothballed. The much-delayed opening of the Monks Cross Community Stadium site has added to their woes.
It remains to be seen whether compensation could be payable – and to whom – for the delayed building works.
The Council pays GLL a management fee. Sources within the Council have said that GLL are now seeking compensation for their ongoing losses.
Apparently, the Council have submitted a claim for £399,000 to Sport England who had offered to support leisure operators. This may not be enough to cover the deficit. The Council and GLL are currently undertaking an “open book” review.
Any decision to provide additional financial support from the Council would require a decision from Councillors. Several Councillors – as users of the leisure facilities – would be debarred from voting on any such decision.
There is another body of opinion which thinks that the local authority should bring the facilities back under its direct control.
It seems that the Community Stadium saga has allot further to run.
Joint Statement from York City Football Club and City of York council about the York Community Stadium
“We are delighted to announce that an agreement has now been reached between City of York Council and York City Football Club. The club will occupy the new stadium with effect from Monday 11 January 2021, with their first game due to be held on Tuesday 19 January as they take on Gateshead in a National League clash.
Both parties have worked extremely hard to overcome any obstacles in the delivery of the project, with the aim of having York City Football Club in their new home as soon as possible.
Both parties would like to make clear that all recent issues have been resolved and our primary focus is on readying the stadium for fixtures this month.
The Council recognises that recent public statements regarding elements of the YCFC lease were unfortunately misrepresented and we look forward to building on this positive working relationship moving forward.
Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said: “We would like to thank York City Football Club for their input and involvement in the project and we look forward to a very bright future for both of the cities sporting teams. We look forward to welcoming Gateshead FC later this month. Our aim throughout our work on the York Community Stadium project has been to deliver an incredible stadium and wider leisure facility for supporters, residents and the wider York community. The new stadium boasts 8,500 seats and has already been recognised by the FA and RFL as one of the finest smaller stadiums in the country, with both organisations looking to use the site in the future, not just for the Rugby World Cup later this year!”
Jason McGill: “On behalf of everyone at York City Football Club, our staff players and supporters, we thank the Council for delivering this great stadium and look forward to our next chapter, with the LNER Community Stadium as our home.”
City of York Council and operators GLL have confirmed that the LNER Community Stadium complex has been completed.
The project was agreed by the Council in 2008 with the original intention of opening the facility in 2012. At that time it had been expected that the section 106 contribution from the developers of the Vanguard shopping centre would have covered all the costs of the new stadium.
The reality is that taxpayers now face a £15 million+ bill.
Nevertheless the stadium will be a welcome addition to the City’s facilities, although it remains unclear when all services located there will actually be up and running.
York City’s next home fixture is scheduled to take place on 28th December.
The Council has issued a media statement saying that, with the final safety checks complete, the council and GLL will formally take control of the site from the building contractors on Friday 18 December.
The council and GLL are now working with partners to make sure residents benefit from the many sports, services and facilities it will host as soon as possible.
an 8,500 seater stadium for York City Football Cub and York City Knights
a community hub, including a library and community offices for York’s sports clubs
York Against Cancer shop and offices
NHS outpatient services
new swimming facilities, gym, dance studio and sports hall with spectator seating
The York Councils Executive is being told that the new Community Stadium will be handed over later this month. There has so far not been any confirmation by the Council, their contractors GLL or the two prospective occupiers of the stadium (York City FC and York Knights RLFC).
York City are playing at home today and, in theory, they could have welcomed up to 2000 fans to the match (which will be held at Bootham Crescent). As the statement below, taken from the City web site makes clear, fans will not be admitted as it has not been possible to take Bootham Crescent out of mothballs yet.
“When the Prime Minister announced, on the 23rd November, that fans could attend football matches we knew it was going to be a race against time to get the necessary certificates and approvals for Bootham Crescent.
As previously communicated, we have been poised to move out of Bootham Crescent and into the LNER Community Stadium for a number of months and as such we have been careful not to unnecessarily invest important club funds into Bootham Crescent.
Despite a huge amount of effort from staff and our loyal volunteers, we are unable to welcome fans back on Saturday 5th December as we are still waiting for external providers to certify parts of the stadium, work which will surpass the deadline given by regulatory bodies.
We know fans will be disappointed, we understand and share that feeling but safety must be our priority and we cannot welcome fans to a stadium which is not properly certified.
We’ll continue to work hard to get Bootham Crescent ready for fans to come back as soon as possible and share updates when we can.
The situation is slightly ironic as the Council last week issued a statement backing the York Knights bid to gain super league status. A key part of the bid was the quality of their proposed home at the Community Stadium; a facility with no opening date!
According to GLL the stadium will be handed over before Christmas