Community Stadium opening date announcement needed.

The announcement earlier in the year, that the opening of the City’s new Community Stadium would be delayed until the autumn, surprised few people.

York City Football Club first learned in 2004 that it could face a move away from Bootham Crescent.

The future of the Knights Rugby team subsequently become inextricably intertwined with the stadiums future.

All seemed well in 2010 when a source of funding (S106 planning contributions) for a new stadium was obtained. Planning permission for the Vanguard development was subsequently granted.  

Further delays occurred as the Council agonised about procurement polices and management arrangements.

After many false dawns, the stadium should have been opening this month.

The announcement of another 6 month delay came as a disappointment.

Such information as leaked out about the cause of the delay was neither confirmed nor denied by a Council embroiled in a local election process. The “purdah” period prevented any statements that might have influenced the election result.

It is now over 5 weeks after the election concluded – with another “no overall majority” result. The Green Party, which opposed the stadium development together with some Tories – now shares power with the LibDems who themselves have a long commitment to the stadium.

There is no suggestion that political interference is behind the reason for the delayed announcements.

The Council, Football and Rugby Clubs – together with the builders (Buckingham) and stadium complex managers (Better), have been strangely quiet over the last few weeks.

 The “purdah” period is long over yet no explanation for the delay or, more importantly, a new opening date have been confirmed. The last official statement talked about an October opening date.

More realistically, the clubs may now be hoping that the stadium will be available for the lucrative Christmas /New Year fixture programme.

NB. York City’s National League North fixture list is due to be announced on 3rd July.  The season will kick off on Saturday, August 3rd. The Football Club has already announced its season ticket prices.

York Community Stadium – contractor pulls out

Reports are circulating this morning that the building contractor for the York Community Stadium has withdrawn from the project.

June 2012 plans

June 2012 plans

ISG was appointed nearly 2 years ago as part of a “design, build, operate & maintain” team overseen by Greenwich Leisure.

A Council report on the £41 million Community Stadium project was published on Friday but makes no reference to ISG’s position. The report – prepared by Council officials – was criticised for not providing an update on the projects financial and business plan.

The much delayed  facility – originally scheduled to open in 2012 – is currently subject to a Judicial Review. The review is expected to be completed in January.

The delays may be taking their toll on the two principal occupants of the Stadium. The Knights Rugby Club was taken over by a new owner last week while York City Football Club currently lie bottom of the National League and seemingly heading for relegation and matches against the likes of Harrogate Town.

A deal was concluded in 2010 which saw a budget of £16 million secured by means of a Section 106 agreement with the developer of a nearby shopping centre.

Now it looks like taxpayers will also face a £12 million bill.

While most of the blame for the failures rest with the then Labour run administration, which drew up the unnecessarily complex contract in 2012, it is a crying shame that the current coalition run Council failed to get a grip on the project when it took control of local affairs in May 2015.

The Council is now caught between a rock and a hard place.

York Council paid out over £1/2 million for Knights training and match-day facilities

A response on a Freedom of Information web site has revealed that the York Council has paid £400,000 to St John’s University.

In return the University  agreed to allow the Knights Rugby team to train, and play its second string fixtures, at the new Haxby Road sports ground.

£200,000 was paid out last year, despite an impasse developing during which the Knights were barred from using the facility.

They eventually gained access only 6 weeks ago.

A second installment of £200,000 has been paid during the current financial year.

It is unclear whether the payments will also facilitate access by York residents to the Haxby Road facilities.

Four weeks ago St Johns University announced that it was withdrawing from participation in the Community Stadium project at Monks Cross

The new information also reveals that payments of £42,168 were made in 2014/15 and £64,000 so far this year to allow the Knights to play their first team fixtures at Bootham Crescent.

No such fixtures have yet been played at the venue with the Knights following a largely nomadic existence for most of their current season, before eventually ending up at Heworth.

If they win their next fixture against Swinton, they might have a home tie in the playoffs… raising again the possibility of a move to Bootham Crescent.

Clubs hiring an average football stadium might expect to pay around £30,000 a year in rent. The figures for Bootham Crescent, therefore, look relatively high – although it would have to cover the cost of changing the layout from football to rugby, not to mention the issue of off the field income.

The expenditure of £506,168 is part of a total of £3.9 million spent so far by the Council on the Community Stadium project. The £3.9 million also includes around £1 million spent on improving athletics facilities at the University of York.

Most of the money has come from a “Section 106” payment made by the developers of the John Lewis store site at Monks Cross.

Knights costs

Stadium will cost Council Taxpayers £1 million a year.

Huntington project administration costs hit £6 million

More details of the changes to the Huntington Community Stadium project have emerged. The papers reveal the administration and project team costs for the project have increased from £3.5 million to £6 million.Stadium Project

The Council will borrow a total of £8 million, meaning that local taxpayers will have to find £720,000 a year in debt charges. In addition the Council will contribute £323,000 towards the annual running costs.

The report talks about a developer paying £12 million for land on which to construct 6000 square metres of retail and commercial space.

This space would be used for

  • Retail units totalling 4245 sq m
  • Two restaurants totalling 110 sq m
  • A digital cinema with bar totalling 1652 sq m

There are numerous risks identified for the project.

The land was originally acquired by the Ryedale Council for leisure purposes. There may be at least a chance that the original owners will seek a share of any enhanced value resulting from commercial development.

Equally the inclusion of – yet more – out of City centre retail development will be controversial.

This is the issue most likely to delay the granting of planning permission and could result in the application being “called in” by central government. In turn, this would impact on the target start (April 2015) and completion (July 2016) dates.

The Council don’t rule out a Judicial Review – a process initiated by opponents of change and  which added, in the last decade, nearly 2 years to the timetable for  modernising the Barbican auditorium.

A 15 month construction commissioning timetable looks highly ambitious anyway.

Less obvious risks may arise. Not least the ubiquitous Great Crested Newts who mounted a strong resistance to being evicted from the neighbouring John Lewis site.

The report confirms that

GLL will be responsible for the overall management of the site and the direct management of the Community Hub, leisure facilities and associated assets. This will be controlled by an overarching lease and management contract for a 13 year period with a 5 year extension option.

As part of the procurement process, GLL have appointed York City Football Club (YCFC) as a sub-contractor to operate the stadium area. YCFC will work with CGC (York Racecourse hospitality company).

The proposal will involve changes to the existing parking and access arrangements. This will see the re-routing of Kathryn Avenue around the stadium, creating a pedestrian only and fan zone, strengthening links with the Vanguard retail scheme

The report also says that “All community hub tenants will enter into lease agreements with CYC for the use of the facilities. All leases have been set at appropriate commercial rates”.

The report includes a table showing how costs have increased over the last couple of years

Component Approved March 2012(£Ms) Approved Nov 2012(£Ms) Proposed Sept 2014(£Ms)
Community Stadium 14.2 14.8 16
Leisure Complex 0 0 12
External works 1.5 1.45 3
NSLC sub total 15.7 15.25 31
Other facilities / Project costs & contingencies 3.5 3.95 6
Total 19.2 19.2 37
Commercial Development Costs (externally funded) 10
Gross Total Cost 19.2 19.2 47