Bradford Bulls chief’s ambitious vision for Odsal

Bradford Bulls Chairman Nigel Wood says his club is committed to playing its part in turning Odsal into a “21st-century facility befitting modern-day sports watching”.

After a spell ground sharing at neighbours Dewsbury because of the rising costs of maintaining their spiritual home, the Bulls returned to Odsal in May, signing an 18-month tenancy agreement with the Rugby Football League, who own the historic stadium on the south side of the city.

Bradford first played there in 1934, and 20 years later, the ground held a British-record Rugby League crowd of 102,569 for the Challenge Cup final replay between Warrington and Halifax, assuring it of a permanent place in the game’s folklore.

Wood, who became Chairman in March, was keen to get the club back to Bradford, explaining: “I think everyone thought playing out of the city was the road to oblivion. It wasn’t straightforward but we got there eventually.

“The club agreed a short-term lease with the RFL but obviously we are hoping and it is intended that this will become a permanent arrangement.

“At the time there was considerable uncertainty about the sport and about the occupancy costs at Odsal, so we couldn’t commit to more than 18 months.

“We are still uncertain about the league structure and financial distributions, hence our caution.”

Wood says local authority involvement is key to any major work at the venue.

“Every stadium development that has happened in Rugby League in the past 20 years has had significant public purse or a civic enabling aspect,” he added.

“This scale of the required ambition simply cannot be done without the city authorities wanting it to happen.

“I am convinced the council and local politicians do want to make something happen for the city and we are in an emerging dialogue with the relevant officers.

“The club volunteers and its partners have brought Odsal back from the dead and I hope that this is creditable enough to persuade the decision-makers that the city needs a 21st-century facility in its southern approach on the M606.”

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