Wakefield Wildcats look likely to be staying put at their Belle Vue ground.
Today those behind plans for a new dream stadium in Stanley said a redevelopment of the club’s existing ground was fast becoming their only hope of securing a home fit for the 21st century.
Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the Wakefield and District Community Stadium Trust, ended months of speculation about plans for the £19m Newmarket Stadium, which were first proposed back in 2009.
Speaking after an ‘all party’ meeting, which took place last week, he said fans would not be disappointed with the latest proposals.
He said they were agreed as ‘a way forward’ by representatives of Wakefield Council, developers Yorkcourt Properties Ltd, club officials and trustees.
Sir Rodney said: “The debate we were having was whether or not a new stadium is preferable to an upgrade of Belle Vue.
“The developer and club are happy with either, but on balance it was agreed we could make progress more quickly on a complete redevelopment of Belle Vue.” Sir Rodney said the economic downturn and changes to Rugby Football League rules on the minimum requirement posed problems for the financing of a new stadium.
He said: “We haven’t ruled it out, but it was going to be funded by the developer, grants from the lottery, Sport England, Europe and the club itself.
“The situation now is that the club has no money to put in and we’re unlikely to get grants, and the developer’s money alone wouldn’t cover the cost of a new-build, but it would stretch to a redevelopment of Belle Vue. Other clubs have had to scale down their plans too.”
But he said the redevelopment would not be without its problems either, adding: “The existing ground is currently owned by a bank.
“We now need to see if we can acquire the freehold of it and adjacent land. If we can do that, we can begin work more quickly than we would be able to on Newmarket.”
Sir Rodney said a re-developed Belle Vue would not see the club or fans miss out.
He said: “It will effectively be a new ground. It will bear no resemblance to what’s currently there.
“Also, if Newmarket doesn’t go ahead, there are still plans for the club to have training facilities there and an all-weather pitch for the community.
“I remain committed and determined to providing a stadium for the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats which is fit for the 21st century and from what was said at the meeting, there are many fans who would be happy for the Wildcats to remain at Belle Vue.”
A spokesman for the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, said: “We’re continuing to work in conjunction with the Stadium Trust, Yorkcourt Properties and Wakefield Council in relation to Newmarket. All parties have the best interests of the Wildcats and sport within the city at heart.”