Huge city development ‘crucial to future of sports stadium scheme’

The precarious financial situation at a sports stadium means it is vital a multi-million pound development in York moves forward, council officers have warned.

Huntington Stadium, the current home of the York City Knights rugby league team, is due to be re-developed under the long-awaited plans to create a 6,000-seat community stadium.

However members of York Council will be told next week the current operators of Huntington Stadium, GLL, are making a loss and want to end the lease 
next April, which could shut it down.

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Members of the council’s cabinet, which meets on Tuesday, will be asked to offer a new deal to GLL, a social enterprise, which would include offering a period of reduced rent, to keep it open.

“Although there is an additional financial cost to the council, the alternative may result in the cessation of the service or considerable additional expense,” a report to be considered by cabinet members says.

If help is not given the athletics track, Waterworld and a gym at the complex would also be hit.

Councillors will also be told at the meeting that building work will not start at the end of next year and is now scheduled to begin in June 2014.

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Earlier councillors approved a planning application for the Monks Cross scheme which will create a 6,000-seat community sports stadium to become the new home of York City Football Club and York City Knights rugby league team.

A contentious retail scheme at Monks Cross for showpiece retailers including Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, which opponents claim will harm city centre trade, will help finance the stadium with nearly £15m.

Councillors will be told that while the authority has no control over the delivery of the retail development, the cash cannot be called upon until work on the development has begun.