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Hull's Stadium Plans
By: Todd Bontoft
This week the Fishy revealed that North East Lincolnshire Council has postponed its planned meeting to discuss the consultants' report it had commissioned into the future of Grimsby Town's new stadium. A date in mid-October now seems to be favourite.
News of the delay means that any hopes of the original intention of Grimsby Town playing in a new home within a season are fading fast.
The council was clearly rocked by the public reaction to the appalling decision reached by councillors that disregarded the wishes of the vast majority of the people of North East Lincolnshire. Ignoring the advice of planning officers and a comprehensive survey of all North East Lincolnshire households they voted down the stadium proposals at Great Coates.
Only time will tell, when the consultants' report is finally published, whether this new delay is a further example of how little support the authority is prepared to offer our community football club or a genuine and positive attempt to provide a solution to the issue once and for all.
Suspicion is rife that the sites at Grimsby Docks, Stallingborough Water Meadows and other patches of available land within North East Lincolnshire have been found wanting when compared with the initial Great Coates' proposal.
Contrast this with the expected announcement that Hull City Council is within the month to give the go-ahead - and fund - a new Â£36M super stadium with seating for 30,000 supporters.
Following the successful flotation of the council-owned telecommunications company Kingston Communications in July 1999, it is to be funded by the resulting windfall.
In defence of North East Lincolnshire Council, it does not have the financial abilities of our neighbours across the river. There is, however, no excuse for a lack of foresight from our civic leaders and equally no excuses for not supporting the club in deeds and actions.
Not only is Hull City spending Â£36M on the new complex but it is also using council-owned land. The project called "Hull Community Super Stadium" is a mixture of leisure and retail developments located at the Circle and West Park covering an area of approximately 74 acres.
What is astonishing is not that Hull City Council is bankrolling the project and providing the land but that it is most crucially providing the community leadership to take the project forward.
Unlike North East Lincolnshire that has a community almost entirely supportive of its football club. Hull's civic leaders must tread the icy and treacherous path of not only having voters supporting Hull City but also two parochial groups of supporters that follow the city's rugby league clubs. From the outset passions have run high as traditionalists at the rugby league clubs have been reluctant to support change and local residents have- as you would expect - expressed their concerns.
Each club and its supporters have distinct requirements and the stadium's location is difficult to position in avoiding conflicts with the rugby league clubs' respective 'patches'. There are those of course that simply do not think that Hull City should be spending that magnitude of money on a sports and leisure complex.
The city council has risen above all these and sees the advantage of such an asset to their city that improves the environmental and social needs of its people.
So far the football club and only one of the professional rugby league clubs (Hull FC) are to take-up residence at the super stadium. From an outsider's perspective it does seem that for a sake of a few miles the other professional club (Hull Kingston Rovers) certainly lack ambition and in years to come may have to swallow their pride or alternatively firmly establish themselves as the city's poor cousins or worse simply disappear.
Every professional club needs to be able to attract spectators and those that have the best facilities will find it significantly easier. The cost of attending games means that those that attend expect the best. Survival for Hull City will be given a major fillip when they move into their new home and it looks likely to happen long before we leave BP.
Good luck to the long-suffering supporters of Hull City, who will inevitably begin climbing the tables in seasons to come, flitting to a new home along the way.
Good luck to Hull City Council for investing in their community and using their windfall wisely.
Lets hope North East Lincolnshire, in a climate where democracy is coming under increased scrutiny, can learn some lessons from our North Bank Rivals.
Who knows what October will bring but I look forward to some excellent derby games in some 21st Century stadiums on both sides of the river.
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