Holes for rugby posts may be round………or possibly square
A couple of weeks ago the Knights signed an agreement with the York Council which not only confirmed that the Community Stadium would be their new home when it opens in 2017 but that, in the interim, they would have the use of Bootham Crescent.
The original planning permission for the new stadium had required that an alternative rugby ground be made available before the old Huntington Stadium was closed.
The move to Bootham Crescent seems to have run into two problems.
Claims have been made on social media that the owners of the stadium have not yet submitted an application for a new safety certificate. Apparently this is needed to allow rugby matches to be staged there (although why rugby should raise different spectator safety concerns from a football match will be a mystery to most casual observers).
This is separate from the licensing application for the ground which is being considered today and which we understand is not directly linked to the rugby clubs move.
Once a safety certificate has been sought there no reason why the Council should not issue it in a matter of a few days.
It appears also the four holes, into which rugby posts will be inserted on match days (they are grass covered at other times), have not yet been dug. Some sources say that this may take around two weeks to resolve. Contractor Bernard Cribbins is apparently expected on site shortly.
The Rugby season finishes at the end of September when the play offs are scheduled to take place. Some Knights fans – with the team playing well and currently in second place in their division – are keen to ensure that the larger crowds expected for the run in can be accommodated.
Use of Bootham Crescent seems to be the only local option available to satisfy this reasonable wish.
The Council signed off in January as “complete” the planning condition for the new Community Stadium (see right) which required an alternative venue to be made available for rugby fixtures.
NB An update report on progress with the Community Stadium is due to be considered by the Council’s Executive on 27th August
Such a group was in place until 2011, after which the newly elected Labour Council decided to take project decisions behind closed doors.
The result was a two year delay in moving things forward with the complication of adding Citywide swimming and indoor sport management responsibilities into the contract.
One consequence was the closure of Waterworld and an emerging threat to the future of the Yearsley swimming pool.
The war between the Councils Labour Leadership and the Knights Rugby Club continues with both sides now engaged in a “mentoring” process.
A “call in” of the planning application by the Highways Agency is adding to the delays with even the most optimistic supporter now doubting whether the stadium could open as promised in July 2016.
The establishment of the all party group is a welcome step forward and should help to sustain the project over the “all out” Council elections, due on May 7th. The make up of the monitoring group would be:
- 1 x Labour
- 1 x Conservative Group (Councillor Steward)
- 1 x Liberal Democrat Group (Councillor Ayre)
- 1 x Green Group (Councillor Taylor)
- 1 x Labour Independent
- 1 x Independent
- 1 place for a Ward Councillor (Councillor Orrell – Huntington & New Earswick)
Completion date slips to “Autumn 2016”
ISG is a Yorkshire based company.
The article claims that the stadium will be completed in “Autumn 2016”.
That conflicts with the July 2016 occupation date previously publicised by the York Council and means that the football club may not be able to move home until the 2017/18 season.
The delays will come as no surprise to the many commentators who have queried the 15 month construction timetable.
The scheme has yet to get planning permission while the future of the Knights Rugby team is under question following a very public disagreement between a senior Council official and the Knights chairman.
The Enquirer article reads;
ISG has been confirmed as the preferred construction partner for the £41m York Community Stadium and Leisure Complex scheme.
ISG will be part of the successful consortium bid by Greenwich Leisure Ltd to build a new home stadium for York’s professional football and rugby teams including leisure, retail, office and community facilities.
The new 8,000 all-seater stadium will include hospitality and conferencing facilities, a new 25m six-lane swimming pool, fitness and active play facilities and a community hub.
Work is expected to start on site this summer with completion scheduled for autumn 2016.
ISG is believed to have beaten rivals Carillion and Barr to the deal.
Danny Murray, ISG’s Northern regional managing director, said: “Our involvement in the York Community Stadium project extends back to 2012 and we have worked closely with GLL and our consortium partners to bring the vision for this keynote regional leisure scheme to reality.
“ISG has exceptionally strong leisure sector credentials, delivering iconic sporting venues like the Olympic Velodrome and the National Football Development Centre in Newport, and we are looking forward to working with our consortium partners to create superb new facilities for York.”
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.
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.
Planning & Project Agreement Live
Work starts on site
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.