Wakefield Trinity fans could have just five more chances to watch a match from the historic East side of Belle Vue, which is now known as the Be Well Support Stadium.
The ground is set to be redeveloped in a move Chairman John Minards believes is as good an option as building a new stadium elsewhere.
Minards is focused on completing the key documentation that will enable work on a £12 million project, which was approved by Wakefield Council last month, to begin.
Crucial funding, primarily from a Section 106 agreement on the site at Newmarket, which had originally been earmarked for a new stadium, and Wakefield Council’s Rugby League Resilience Fund, should be formalised this month.
And Minards remains optimistic that stage one, which comprises the demolition of the East Stand, which dates back to the 1950s and was featured in the film This Sporting Life, and its replacement by a 2,507-seat construction with associated facilities – will start in mid-April.
That would mean that, following the derby clash with Castleford on Easter Thursday, April 14, Trinity’s fifth home Super League game of 2022 (there could also be a Challenge Cup tie at the stadium before then), that section of the ground will be out of use.
“It will mean some disruption, and not just to the East side, because we will instal temporary seating elsewhere in the stadium, but it will be well worth it in the long term,” explained Minards.
“After the final game of the season, when we have a window of time without games, the plan is to really go for it and start the upgrade of the North Terrace (the end nearest the city centre), which is the second stage of the redevelopment.
“We know the club played at Belle Vue, if not on the current pitch, from the 1870s, and that the ground in the basic form we know it was in use in the first-ever season of Rugby League in 1895.
“When you think of the history of the place and the legendary players who have entertained supporters down the years, it’s great to be able to stay.
“The pandemic, which means we have lost 18 months, shows nothing is done until it is done, but I’m as confident as I can be that things are on course.”
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