Castleford Tigers’ chief executive Steve Gill says costly storm damage to their creaking old ground should remind everyone it is imperative the club secure a new stadium.
They were forced to shut the Princess Street stand, which holds almost 4,000 supporters, for Andy Lynch’s testimonial game on Sunday after raging winds last Friday night caused a retaining wall to collapse.
It will remain closed for their two other pre-season games, but Gill is confident rebuilding work will be complete in time for their Super League opener against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on February 8 when a sell-out crowd of 11,750 is expected.
Two days before then, though, Wakefield councillors will hold a crucial planning meeting to discuss an application by developers Lateral Property Group to build the £135m Five Towns Park on land close to junction 32 of the M62.
The proposals include a new 10,000-capacity stadium for Castleford who have, frustratingly, seen various attempts to leave the decaying Wheldon Road – their home since 1927 – fail in recent years.
Asked if this move must now happen, Gill admitted: “Without a doubt. This has got to be the one. I don’t see anything after this if we don’t make it.
“But it’s a no-brainer in my eyes. It won’t cost the club anything and there is a £135m investment which will include a country park, shops and create 2,000 jobs when there are a lot of cuts around the Wakefield area.
“It’s a gift horse and no one in their right mind could fail to back it. It’s like someone being able to forecast Saturday’s lottery numbers for you, knowing 100 per cent they’d be right and then you not paying your £2.
“We’ve had 96 per cent of people showing their support for it from 7,000 that have submitted their views.
“We have to be able to generate money and, at the moment, we can only really do that down here on matchday. That holds us back.
“We’re insured for the storm damage, but it highlights again why we need a new ground; as much as it hurts to say it, it is time for us to move to help secure our Super League future.”