Bristol Rovers unveil new stadium plans
English soccer club Bristol Rovers have announced plans to move from their historic Memorial Ground to a new 20,000-seater stadium on land owned by the University of the West of England (UWE).
The UK£40 million (US$65 million) development will be situated next to the university's Frenchay campus and will be named the UWE Stadium. The deal will also establish a long-term partnership between Bristol Rovers and UWE.
Should their plans be successfully approval by South Gloucestershire Coucil, it is hoped that work will start on the site in 2012 with the stadium set for completion during the 2013/14 soccer season.
Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs told the Bristol Evening Post: "The partnership between the club and the university provides a synergy of use which helps everyone and which means this is a privately-funded scheme without any public money at all.
"Negotiations on this project have been going on for nearly two years, in tandem with our plans to develop the existing Memorial Ground site. We have looked at several sites in Bristol and South Gloucestershire but we felt this land ticked all the boxes to allow us to build the best possible stadium for Bristol Rovers."
Bristol Rovers and UWE are expected to submit a planning application to South Gloucestershire Council in the coming weeks, although these plans are dependent on planning permission being given to supermarket chain Sainsbury's.
Higgs added: "The sale of the Memorial Ground to Sainsbury's is part-financing the scheme and therefore it would be the enabling development which would allow the new stadium to be built. Without it, the new stadium just does not happen."
Sainsbury's hope to build a new superstore on the land where the Memorial Ground currently sits, although their plan is also dependent on planning permission being granted by the local council. A statement released by the supermarket reads: "We are pleased to confirm that we have an agreement with Bristol Rovers regarding the opportunity for a new store and other developments at the Memorial Ground, subject to the club securing a relocation site.
Should council negotiations be successful, the whole package - including the superstore and Bristol Rovers' ongoing partnership with UWE - would be worth a total investment of UK£60 million (US$98 million).
Professor Steve West, vice chancellor of UWE, said: "We welcome this exciting strategic agreement which will bring tremendous benefits to the university, students and the local community. The agreement makes UWE the first university campus with a 20,000-seat stadium in the UK, putting it on a par with many international universities and we believe this will have long-term value for everyone involved."
Last season, Bristol Rovers were relegated from League One after finishing 22nd in the division. The Gas will start the 2011/12 season in League Two.
- Length of contract: N/A
- Annualised value: US$65 million
- Overall value: US$65 million
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