Dank prospects for Yorkshire’s redevelopment, after delays to the adjoining rugby ground © PA Photos
Yorkshire’s chief executive, Mark Arthur, has warned that Headingley could miss out on international fixtures for four years, and be excluded from hosting matches at the 2019 World Cup, after a delay to the rebuilding works at Leeds Rhinos rugby stadium that backs onto the cricket ground.
Rhinos had originally hoped to demolish their South Stand and embark on a £38 million refit, involving both the cricket and rugby venues, at the end of their season two months ago.
However, with the new Super League season is due to get underway in February, planning permission for the building work has not yet been granted by Leeds City Council, and the sale of two areas of land for housing, that is due to part-fund the project, has not yet gone through.
“The funding package for the whole stadium development involves investment from both ourselves and Yorkshire CCC, and support from both Leeds City Council and other public bodies,” said Gary Hetherington, Rhinos chief executive.
“The sale of historical land assets completes the funding of the scheme, leaving the clubs in a stable long term financial position. We appreciate the support from the council to date, but we recognise the distinction and integrity of the planning process.”
While the delay to the rebuild means that Rhinos will revert to its original 20,000 capacity, the news has caused “deep concerns” at Yorkshire, who state that the completion of the scheme is “essential for both the staging of International fixtures beyond 2019 and the financial sustainability of the club”.
“The 2020-2024 major matches will be allocated in the summer of 2017, therefore this delay could mean that Headingley will no longer be considered fit for Test match cricket – or to host any World Cup matches in 2019,” said Arthur.
“Not only does this delay impact the club’s ability to stage Internationals, it would also have profound consequences to both Yorkshire’s and Leeds Rhinos’ valuable and long-standing work within the wider community.
“To continue the vast amount of work within the Leeds area, the club is dependent on retaining International cricket.”
The club’s ‘Grant Funding Application’ submitted to Leeds City Council in July 2016, projected that the redevelopment would account for £5.75million of additional visitor spend in Leeds and £5.3million county-wide per annum.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo