Wirral Council has matched a £100,000 (€116,000/$121,000) pledge from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRA) for a feasibility study on a proposed ‘Sports City’ project that would be anchored by a new 15,000-seat stadium for League Two football club Tranmere Rovers.
The total cost of the project will be around £100m and Wirral Council yesterday (Monday) debated the LCRA’s £100,000 offer for the feasibility study. The council has backed the project, which it feels marks a “significant regeneration opportunity” for land at the former Bidston Dock in Birkenhead.
The new stadium would support Tranmere’s long-term plans to become a sustainable Championship club. Last week, Tranmere welcomed news that the proposed project could be resurrected.
The club initially confirmed discussions about the possibility of building a new stadium back in August 2019. Vice-chairman Nicola Palios said Tranmere was looking into potential plans for a new home ground, adding it would be a “massive and complicated project” for the club, which has been based at the 16,500-capacity Prenton Park (pictured) for more than a century.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic put these ambitions on the back-burner, but the plans have now returned to the agenda. The new Sports City scheme will be wider in scope than the one originally envisioned.
The 15,000-seat stadium would feature an in-built hotel and conference/events facility, with its capacity to be increased to 25,000 if required in the future. Other features of the site will include a digital golf driving range, food and retail outlets and a sports science facility.
The next stage is a feasibility study to explore the concept of the project, confirm the demand and timescale for delivery, and develop a business and funding plan. It is proposed that the feasibility study will be completed by December 2022.
The council has noted that the club itself is not currently in a position to contribute towards the feasibility study due to costs incurred from the pandemic. Tranmere has however agreed to fund £50,000 of the council’s cost as and when the project goes ahead, either in cash or in kind.
The project has been supported in principle by Peel Land and Development, which owns the land on which the stadium would sit. Peel only wants to be involved as the land owner, with the council and project partners to progress the development itself.
Prenton Park would become available for residential development if the project is completed. Tranmere owns Prenton Park and has played there since 1912.