Work on a new £10m ($12.7m/€11.4m) stadium in Wakefield could begin later this year, with backers confident that an eight-year long battle is coming to an end.
The 10,000-capacity arena is to be the new home of Super League rugby league club Wakefield Trinity. Developers hope other sports clubs will also use the new facility.
Plans for the Wakefield Community Stadium have stalled in recent years due to red tape involving developers, Yorkcourt Properties. However, stadium backer Sir Rodney Walker, of the new Wakefield Community Stadium Trust and former chairman of Sport England and the Rugby Football League, said problems have now been overcome.
He told the Wakefield Express newspaper: “I’m hoping that we can make real progress, start building later in the year and get it in use as soon as possible.
“I’m reserving judgement until I have dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts, but once I know everybody is happy, we will finally achieve what we set out to do eight years ago.
“We are almost there. For the first time I’m more optimistic than cautious.
“I would like to pay tribute to the enormous amount of work that has been done by the supporters’ groups in keeping the pressure on everybody to bring about this community stadium.”
Wakefield to leave Belle Vue
After first being mooted in 2009, the Newmarket Lane project stalled when Yorkcourt undertook a ‘Unilateral Undertaking’ instead of a ‘multi-party Section 106 Agreement’ – which would have seen the local council, supporters’ trust and Trinity all involved in the plans.
In April, Council leader Peter Box revealed how further talks with developers had resulted in Yorkcourt agreeing to replace the existing ‘Unilateral Agreement’ with a new ‘Section 106 Agreement’.
Walker added: “The important thing is that it’s going to be a stadium for the community of Wakefield at which Trinity will be the principal tenants, although negotiations are underway and we may well see others playing there also.”
Wakefield Trinity has already announced it will be leaving the 5,000 capacity Belle Vue at the end of the season, saying the old ground is no longer fit for purpose. The club has played at the venue since 1895.
Image: Wakefield Trinity