Private operator targeted for Gateshead International Stadium

Featured image credit: David Dixon/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Featured image credit: David Dixon/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Gateshead International Stadium is set to be offered to a private operator as the English town’s council faces a financial deficit.

The venue is primarily used for athletics but is also home to Gateshead FC, which competes in the National League, the fifth tier of English club football.

According to The Chronicle, it has been included in a tendering process to find contractors who will take over Gateshead Council’s remaining sports centres and swimming pools following the closure of two leisure centres.

The local authority has been attempting to reduce its expenditure on leisure services as it faces a predicted £50m (€57.6m/$62.9m) shortfall over the next five years.

As a result, it is looking for an external operator to oversee the running of sites in Blaydon, Heworth, and Dunston to help balance the books.

The stadium was previously omitted from the original review but has been added in the hope of making a deal “more attractive to the market”.

Despite this, it will be kept as a separate lot in the procurement process meaning that the Council will not be obliged to award a contract that covers all four facilities.

The Council has outlined that the venue is in need of £4m worth of repairs over the coming decade, while it will cost at least £11m to keep it open in that time factoring in operational costs.

Earlier this week, councillors were told that promising talks are currently underway with Gateshead College about the future of the stadium which serves as a base for its sports students.

A total of five athletics world records have been set at Gateshead International Stadium, but the venue is not just for sport as it has staged concerts by artists such as Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and Tina Turner in the past.

In July, Gateshead Council approved revised plans for Sage Arena and International Conference Centre (ICC), with delivery of the former component of the project pushed back to 2027.

The Council’s planning committee unanimously granted permission for revised plans for the ICC and 12,500-capacity Arena, designed by HOK, as well as an urban park, which will enhance biodiversity in the area and provide both pedestrian link and lift access.

Whilst the development gained planning permission in March 2022, a revised planning application was submitted in March this year due to design and scheme changes.