Council rejects Headingley Stadium’s boxing plans

Leeds City Council has turned down an application from Headingley Stadium to host boxing and wrestling events at 25,000 capacity.

The decision means that the planned boxing match between Leeds-born Josh Warrington and Mauricio Lara at the stadium in September is now in doubt.

Stadium operator Leeds Cricket Football and Athletic Co Ltd has the right to appeal the decision and boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that an appeal will be lodged.

The Emerald Headingley Stadium complex incorporates two separate rugby league and cricket grounds, which serve as the home of Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, respectively. Earlier this month, an application was filed for the rugby ground to stage two 25,000-capacity boxing and wrestling events each year.

The events would take place on a Friday or Saturday between the hours of midday and midnight but the plans have not been backed by Leeds City Council amid opposition from local residents regarding potential anti-social behaviour or noise pollution.

A council spokesperson told the West Leeds Dispatch: “The committee noted the steps the stadium had proposed to take to reduce public nuisance and disorder and to promote the licensing objectives.

“However the events proposed were very different in nature and duration finishing at 11pm, compared to regular events at the venue and the noise was likely to last longer into the night significantly impacting local residents, including children. The stadium now has the right to appeal this decision.”

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said the decision was a “huge disappointment” and told the BBC: “So much work has gone on behind the scenes to bring the Warrington rematch back to Leeds and I suspect Eddie Hearn may now look to take the fight to another city.”

Last year, the rugby ground was given a boost after the council gave the green light for the venue to host music events with a capacity of up to 20,000. The decision came after Headingley had previously been granted permission to host two 10,000-capacity concerts per year.

The stadium complex underwent redevelopment work worth £45m (€51.8m/$62.6m) between 2017 and 2019, with the project including a new joint North/South Stand overlooking both the rugby pitch and cricket ground.

Image: Emerald Headingley Stadium