Industry News

Leeds City Council backs Headingley funding proposal

Leeds City Council has backed a proposal that will see a third-party investor provide funds for the development of the English city’s Headingley sports venue.

The council last month agreed in principle to support a funding agreement to renovate the venue, which includes a cricket ground and a rugby stadium. The council yesterday (Wednesday) formally approved the proposal.

The identity of the third-party investor has not been revealed, but it will provide up to £35m (€41.7m/$44.9m) to fund the redevelopment of Headingley.

Rugby league club Leeds Rhinos has also pledged £5m towards the project, which is set to secure Headingley’s future as a leading international sports venue.

The council is set to lease the ground from the investor and then sub-let it to the Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The council had previously withdrawn a £4m grant for the work, and the move had placed the cricket ground’s status as a leading cricket venue in doubt. Headingley is scheduled to host a number of games during England and Wales’ staging of the Cricket World Cup in 2019

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I am pleased that (the) executive board has backed the deal which we have arranged with a private third-party investor to fund the redevelopment of Headingley Carnegie Stadium.

“It’s vital for both the city and the region that Headingley continues to host high-class international and domestic sport. With the tight timescales which are involved for this work to begin, this route offers the best and most viable option moving forward. As part of this agreement, the cost of financing the development will be met by both the rugby and cricket clubs at no cost to the tax-payer.

“Headingley is a historic sporting venue recognised around the world. In hosting top-class matches it brings a large international profile and significant economic benefits to Leeds and the wider region. The impact of having elite sports men and women playing at Headingley is also in many ways bigger than the sports themselves. The power they have as role models to inspire young people in our communities cannot be underestimated and neither is the ability through their success from a personal and team perspective to instil great pride in our city.”