Workers will move onto the site to begin constructing York’s long-overdue Community Stadium in October.
And it will open at Monks Cross for the use of York City FC and York City Knights in June 2019.
That was the message from City of York Council on Wednesday (July 19).
Confident of the dates
Sports fans could be forgiven for treating this announcement with some scepticism.
They were originally promised that the stadium would open in 2016. And since then there has been delay after delay.
But Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive councillor with responsibility for the stadium, said supporters could be confident of these revised dates.
There have been numerous hurdles that have come along the way – things that we perhaps could have foreseen, and things that we certainly couldn’t foresee.
It’s all now about positivity. Making sure we get started on site and this gets delivered.
He defended the decision to close the leisure pool Waterworld in 2014 – five years before a new pool promised as part of the community stadium will open.
“If nothing had happened with Waterworld we would be looking at a six to eight month demolition period which would then have been added on to this timetable.
“Being able to do that has allowed us to get on site a lot sooner.”
Cut in costs
Community stadium operator Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) is preparing to announce its new main building contractor to replace the previous one that pulled out due to the delays.
The good news is that this contractor says it can build the stadium for £34 million, £2.7m less than the previous cost.
Although the effects of Brexit and other factors have added other costs the revised budget is still down £2.6m on the previous estimate: £41.6m (as opposed to £44.2m in March 2016).
A lot of what’s in the latest council report confirms the details of the proposed stadium which our outlined in our report here from March last year.
So what’s changed?
Cinema operator confirmed
It has been confirmed that Cineworld will be the cinema operator.
The company will be responsible for running the 13-screen cinema, including York’s first IMAX screen.
Cineworld has already applied to City of York Council for a licence to open 24 hours a day, and serve alcohol from 11am-2am daily.
No stadium sponsor
Last year the council said a sponsored name of the stadium could bring in between £40k and £60k a year.
Draft terms had been agreed with a potential sponsor, but that sponsor has now pulled out.
But they’ve not give up.
It is therefore proposed that the Council now secures a new Stadium Naming Rights Sponsor following Financial Close.
– Council report
Community facilities at the new stadium should include “a new type of library offer aimed at accessing new users & groups, allowing users to access books, IT equipment, free Wi-Fi and a range of learning activities”, the report says.
This was going to run by the city’s mutually-owned library service, Explore York. But its contract with City of York Council runs out in March 2019.
The council will start a procurement process for the library contract next year.
“It is therefore no longer appropriate for the council to enter into a formal lease agreement with the current library operator, Explore Libraries,” the latest report states.
Instead they will wait and appoint the operator following the appointment of the library operator from 2019.
What they said
York City FC stadium development director Ian McAndrew said the football club, including chairman Jason McGill, had been frustrated by the hold-ups.
“It’s been a long time coming, there have been frustrations, there’s been delays,” he said.
“Of course Jason’s been upset by that. It’s expensive to run a football club in a stadium like Bootham Crescent that’s old and dated.
“But we’re looking forward now, not looking back.”
Owner of York City Knights Jon Flatman said the stadium would help the campaign to bring the 2021 World Cup to the city.
“We want to bring the World Cup to York. We think we can put a strong consortium together that puts a really strong case and host a fantastic event.
“The benefits of that include the legacy around the interaction with schools and community clubs.
“None of that could happen without the stadium.”
You can read the full council report here (PDF)