Fire-stricken Thornes Park Athletics Stadium in Wakefield could be replaced by new facility

A new leisure centre could be built to replace Thornes Park Athletics Stadium, which was ravaged by a suspected arson attack earlier this year.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 4:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 4:56 pm
The stadium, on Horbury Road, was ravaged by fire in a suspected arson attack in February.
The stadium, on Horbury Road, was ravaged by fire in a suspected arson attack in February.

Three boys, aged 11, 12 and 13 were questioned by police after the stadium, which is used by hundreds of people every year, was set alight in February.

No further action has been taken as yet by police, though it's understood that the case has not been closed.

Wakefield Council runs the facility, which was used by gym-goers and members of local athletics teams.

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Three boys were spoken to by police after the incident. It's understood the case has not yet been closed.

But while the council has indicated it will carry out repairs on the building to allow the public to return as soon as it's safe, it's also suggested a new modern centre could be put up in its place in the long-term.

A report prepared for senior councillors has described the stadium and Thornes Park's outdoor athletics track as "tired" and in need of refurbishment, irrespective of the fire damage.

Having first been opened in 1991, the council says that piecemeal improvements to the stadium to keep it fit for purpose are proving increasingly expensive and difficult to do.

The immediate repairs will cost £550,000, though just over half of that will be covered by insurance.

The damage caused by the blaze was extensive and will cost 550,000 to repair.

Speaking ahead of next week's Cabinet meeting, where the issue will be discussed, the council's Cabinet member for leisure, Jacquie Speight said: "Thornes Park Stadium is a hugely popular venue that is well used by residents.

"We have faced some very challenging times this year, first the fire in February and then starting in March, the challenges of Covid-19.

"We have risen to these challenges and recognise how important the Athletics Stadium is to residents and communities. The proposal is to carry out the repairs that are needed so that people can use and access at least some of the previous facilities whilst we then plan for the future of the site.

“Ensuring that residents can access some facilities is important, as we then start the longer-term planning for a new building, to give residents the up-to-date facilities across a range of activities that they deserve.”

It is not known yet how much a new centre would cost.

Besides hosting athletics and sports the events the stadium has also been the regular venue for Wakefield's General Election count.

Local Democracy Reporting Service