Community Stadium opening date – York Council to hear latest fantasy league predictions

Huntington Stadium April 2014
Leisure chief Cllr Sonja Crisp will be asked to give a firm opening date for the new Community Stadium at Huntington when the Council meets on Thursday.

Funding for the stadium (£12m) was agreed in 2010 and confirmed when planning permission for the new Monks Cross development was granted in 2011.

That development – which includes the John Lewis store -was finished and opened several months ago.

The Council has been very slow to start work on an alternative athletics facility having dithered over the precise location for the track on the York University campus.

Only an immediate start on the stadium in the autumn (when the athletics season comes to an end) would give some hope that it could be in use for the 2016/17 football stadium (the Football League frowns on Clubs that try to change homes mid season)

"I've still got a job in football. I'm building the Huntington Stadium" click for full interview

“I’ve still got a job in football. I’m building the Huntington Stadium” click for full interview

But the Stadium  has yet  to receive detailed planning permission and Cllr Crisp has been unable to even decide who will manage the stadium.

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson has now tabled the following question for the meeting next week,

“What is the Cabinet Member’s deadline for starting work on the ground at the new Community Stadium at Huntington and what is her current best estimate of its opening date?”

In April, Council Leader James Alexander tweeted to give an absolute guarantee that “construction work on the Stadium would start by March 2015”

Most stadia take at least 18 months to build.

Waterworld sinking?

Energise Pool It looks like the delays on the Community Stadium project are now beginning to hit other parts of the City’s leisure services.

The Councils Labour Cabinet are set to hand an additional £450,000 to the contractors running Waterworld next year to keep it going.

The delay in letting a comprehensive contract – to run all building based leisure facilities in the City – means that Energise will be asked to find an additional £20,000 in income while it looks like the Yearsley Pool will be required to fund savings of £100,000!

Users will be eagerly awaiting news of how these economies will be achieved.

Increased admission charges have already been announced

York Community Stadium size shock

The Councils Cabinet is to consider an update on the much delayed Community Stadium at its meeting on 7th January.

The Council is seeking an operator who will design, build, operate and maintain the stadium. They will also manage and maintain the Councils other Leisure facilities such as the successful Energise sports centre on Cornlands Road.

Given the Council somewhat varied track record on Leisure centre management (the Barbican was costing taxpayers £800,000 a year until it was privatised), the Council is probably correct to seek a professional organisation to manage the Stadium.

Athletics layout - Heslington West click for original

Athletics layout – Heslington West click for original

Discussions with 2 preferred bidders are expected to continue until March. Their plans will be kept secret until later in the year.

The Council says that “All submissions were able to meet the basic minimum criteria set of 6,000 capacity all-seat stadium, community hub within the financial parameters of the project”

However designing the stadium so that it can be expanded in capacity later is described as having “major cost implications” and it seems that the initial capacity may be increased to over 6000 with “some terraced standing space”.

That is likely to please many football supporters but it would be at the expense of later expansion capability.

It seem likely now that a stadium with a capacity of 7000 will be provided but with the capability of expansion to 10,000 only if Championship (or Super League) promotion is achieved.

The report confirms that the costs of running the stadium will be covered “through a mix of the rentals from the sports clubs, the community hub tenants and other commercial income streams brought forward by each bidder. This will include full maintenance and lifecycle costs as part of a 13 year operational contract”.

The Council are now talking about opening the stadium in spring 2016.

Final Tenders

May 2014

Planning   & Project Agreement Live

January   2015

Work starts on site

February   2015

Stadium Opens

February / March 2016

The £2 million athletics facility at Heslington West is expected to be opened in September 2014. A copy of the design specification for the athletics facility can be viewed here.

The Cabinet report includes a list of the risk factors that must be addressed. Not least amongst these is the need to meet the requirements of the Football Foundation who loaned York City £2 million in 2005.

Knavesmire sports pavilion slips 12 months….Community Stadium update

New pavilion design

New pavilion design

The ambitious plans to provide a replacement pavilion on the little Knavesmire for the Hamilton Panthers football team looks like being delayed.

The York Council has set aside £350,000 to part fund the £600,000 project. But it seems that funding from Sport England has been delayed.

The project which will see a new clubhouse and changing rooms built on the site of an old ROC World War II building was given planning permission in 2012.

At that time it was hoped that the new facility would be available for use in early 2014, but this now seems unlikely

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The Council is also saying that the new Community Stadium – which will be built on the site of the existing Huntington Stadium – will cost £1.85 million this year.

The total cost is now put at £18.6 million

It is unclear how the council intends to recover it’s investment (now thought to be around £4 million) or whether it includes the capitalised salaries of those who are working on the project.

It is understood that formal bids for the construction of the stadium will be considered in January, with the hope that construction will be completed in 2016.

The project is running 2 years behind schedule.

Blow for Sports Village hopes. Community Stadium to be delayed?

The Council has announced that it will no longer be funding an athletics track at the Sports Village on Hull Road.

The facility was to have opened this year.

The proposal to establish a sports village – which also includes swimming pools, 3G football pitches, a fitness suite, a outdoor cycling circuit and spa facilities – was agreed over 3 years ago and most of the facilities are now in use.

Athletics stadium Sept 2013

However, the provision of a new £2 million athletics stadium was to be the final jewel in the crown.

The intention had been to maximise the use of shared facilities such as the refreshment area, physiotherapy, spa and changing rooms.

Now the Council has decided to refurbish the University of York running track on Heslington Lane which is nearly 2 miles away from the Sports Village. The Heslington/Fulford area already suffers from traffic and parking issues

The implications for the running costs of both facilities remain unclear as does the financial commitment of the Council to the whole Community Stadium project.

A spokesperson for the Labour run council has claimed that the new site will be “cheaper”.

However, the athletes are claiming that the Council has agreed to subsidise the York Athletic Club for “5 years”.

Who has agreed such a subsidy, with what restrictions and for how much remains a mystery?

Behind closed doors logo

This major change in policy was taken at another behind closed doors meeting, so taxpayers are being kept in the dark

Moving the athletics track from the Huntington Stadium was an essential precursor to work on the new stadium starting.

It now seems that athletes will leave Huntington in late 2014 prior to occupying the refurbished University track in 2015.

Completion of the Community Stadium has already been put back to 2016 and further delays cannot be ruled out.