Trinity boss confident stadium plans will become reality

Wakefield Trinity Chairman John Minards admits that he is more confident than he’s ever been that the club’s longstanding plans to improve their Belle Vue home will finally come to fruition next year.

Trinity bought their stadium and surrounding land March 2019 and in November last year the club submitted a planning application to Wakefield MDC for the redevelopment of part of its stadium. That application will be considered at a planning committee meeting on 16 December.

“Too many people over too many years have announced victory in either securing a new stadium or redeveloping Belle Vue,” Minards told League Express.

“When we bought the freehold, that was a crucial moment.

“We are now going to the planning committee on December 16th. Also being considered on that day is a planning application for the Plot 8 development at Newmarket, which is where a new stadium was going to be built.

“That is the enabling development which will help fund the redevelopment of Belle Vue. Newmarket Lane Limited is joint venture between York Court and Henry Boot for a warehousing and distribution centre. This is a new application on a piece of land they haven’t made an application on before. That piece of land is designated for a sports stadium. What joins the two applications is the section 106 agreement, which links the two. They won’t get planning permission for that site if an agreement isn’t signed beforehand.

“I’m now as sure as I can be that our redevelopment proposals will go ahead. We have a fully-funded scheme and I am satisfied that we have the funds available to do all that we want to do.”

Last week Wakefield MDC announced a new Rugby League Resilience Fund, whereby it would grant £2 million each to the three clubs in its district, Wakefield Trinity, Castleford Tigers and Featherstone Rovers.

“By far the majority of the development cost will come from the Section 106 agreement,” said Minards.

“I am now very happy that we can proceed.

“Phase one was acquiring the site, including the land that formed part of the former Superbowl and the parking area in March 2019.

“Phase two is substantially unchanged. We were very close to beginning this development in March 2020. But then the world turned upside down and it wasn’t possible to proceed because of the pandemic.

“World prices of steel and concrete have moved against us since then, but notwithstanding that we are in a place that is fully funded.

“A new East Stand, which will provide 2,500 seats, will take us well beyond minimum standards and will include changing rooms, other matchday related rooms, and a hospitality suite behind the seats with a glass wall. On matchdays, people will dine in there and walk out in the seats just in front. We will retain the boxes we have on the south stand. The facility will be available as a conference venue and as a 300-seater restaurant. It will be a standalone go-to venue for Wakefield for the rest of the year.

“In addition, we will resurface the north terrace, it will be brought up to modern standards and we will retain the existing cover. It will be substantially the same with a slightly increased capacity. The whole stadium capacity will be around 9,000.

“Phase three will be the building in the corner, converting it into a community hub. The changing rooms will have a massive makeover and there will be some gym equipment in there, particularly with facilities for ladies and PDRL participants on the ground floor. There will be exercise studios and dance studios on the first floor with some club retail and a community café.

“The car park will get a big makeover; it will no longer resemble a lunar landscape and there will be parking for well in excess of 100 cars.

“Phase four were the floodlights, which have been replaced already with the latest LED technology, and more intense lighting directed onto the pitch. They cost in the region of £400,000.

“As far as the playing arena is concerned, we will put in a permanent big screen in the northwest corner, which costs less than £100,000 and we will put down the latest 4G pitch, so we can throw the stadium open for community use.

“We will fulfil the minimum requirements for the club and we’ll make a contribution to the community. We believe the people of Wakefield deserve a community stadium.

“If the planning application is granted, we could see activity begin in February. It would take us over a year to build, which means that we might be starting to open the new facility in April or May 2023 with test events.”

And Minards admits that to implement the club’s plans will be a massive weight off his and the club’s shoulders.

“The decline of Belle Vue over a long period, and the unfulfilled promises of a new stadium, have been embarrassing for the club and the city. We have been the butt of comments from visiting supporters, which have been unpleasant to hear, but they have been correct.

“I’m confident now that we will soon be turning the tide.”

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