Headingley’s owners are desperate for a ray of sunshine © Getty Images
Yorkshire and Leeds Rhinos, their rugby league counterparts, have appealed to Leeds City Council to give the go-ahead to their Headingley development next month to allow the staging of the Cricket World Cup in 2019 and the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
The new stand, on the rugby side of the ground, would serve both sports and is seen as essential in raising Headingley to a necessary standard to attract the sort of fixtures that will make the ground financially viable.
A positive outcome in a council planning committee meeting on January 12 is deemed essential as Yorkshire press for the same level of political support in Leeds as has been displayed by other major cities in the UK including Cardiff, where support from the Welsh Assembly has been integral to the ground’s international status, Birmingham and Manchester.
Plans to replace the decrepit rugby stand, part of which is now condemned for safety reasons, were baulked when planning officers rejected two linked residential planning applications in the Leeds suburbs of Weetwood and Tingley Leeds on ground owned by Leeds Rhinos which were contributing funds to the overall cost of delivering the stadium project.
After emergency discussions with council chiefs, that application has now been withdrawn, pending further discussions with both the council and the community. Rhinos representatives did not help themselves when they failed to attend a community meeting after receiving confidential council advice that they would face a hostile reception.
Leeds Council’s own calculations are that they need 70,000 new homes in the city by 2028.
Both Yorkshire and Leeds Rugby are still hopeful that a solution to the funding requirements of this scheme can be found.
Yorkshire’s chief executive Mark Arthur said: “It is essential that a solution is found in order to deliver International Cricket to Leeds beyond 2019, and we are working tirelessly with Leeds City Council and Leeds Rhinos to that end.”
The new stand is Phase 2 of a six-stage plan known, with characteristic Yorkshire amour propre, as the Headingley Masterplan. The stand will incorporate a three-tiered seating area, which will accommodate 5,060 seats, enhanced corporate facilities and a new media area.
Leeds Rugby’s chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “To deliver the £39m Headingley Carnegie Stadium redevelopment, which everyone wants, we have to find a solution to the funding issue.”
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo