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Plans in the works for Odsal sports city project

Bradford Bulls chairman Nigel Wood has revealed that the rugby league club is exploring plans to create a new sports city complex around its Odsal Stadium home ground.

Odsal is considered one of English rugby league’s most historic stadiums but the venue, along with the Bulls, has fallen on hard times in recent years.

The Bulls, which play in the second-tier Championship, returned to Odsal in May last year after agreeing an 18-month occupancy deal to play at the venue. Bradford left Odsal in 2019 to groundshare with the Dewsbury Rams amid plans to develop a new home in the Yorkshire city.

Odsal is owned by Bradford City Council but the Rugby Football League (RFL) was forced to step in to assume the lease-hold interest in 2012 amid the financial troubles surrounding the Bulls.

“We’re trying to do something with the stadium and make it a priority,” Wood said at a recent fans’ forum meeting, according to the Telegraph & Argus newspaper.

“We’ve worked with local and national politicians to make this South Bradford corridor better. That work has been productive and with the help of the Levelling Up fund MP Judith Cummins, we are trying to help the club achieve its objective, a 21st century facility for Bradford.”

Wood stressed that the sports complex project has been drawn up by the City of Bradford rather than the Bulls.

He added: “There’s a Bradford Council initiative to develop that corridor from Richard Dunn (Sports Centre), to here, then down the valley to make a modern facility.

“It’s probably a 2/1 shot it will come off as not everybody who applies for Levelling Up funding will get it, it has to be based on the impact in the local economy and everything the club stands for. The hopes and aspirations are to take the club forward, and part of that ability to remain relevant is to address facilities at the club.”

Odsal first opened in 1933 and famously drew a crowd of 102,569 for the 1954 Challenge Cup final replay between Warrington and Halifax. The stadium still attracted large crowds as the Bulls enjoyed great success in the 1990s and 2000s. However, the team went into administration in 2012 and was liquidated in 2017, forcing a rebirth in the lower leagues.

Bradford is currently ninth in the Championship table.

Image: Chris Heaton/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size