The £40m redevelopment of Headingley Stadium is in full swing and yesterday council leader Judith Blake was given a tour to see how it is taking shape.
The project includes a new main stand, shared by Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire, and the rebuilding of the rugby side’s famous South Stand.
Yesterday Coun Blake and chief executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club Mark Arthur toured the new Emerald Stand, which is due to be completed in time for a one day international against Pakistan in May.
The three-tier stand will accommodate 4,300 seats with state-of-the-art facilities including a new 450-seater banqueting suite and permanent concession units.
Financial services company Legal & General put £35m into the redevelopment – to be repaid by Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club in rent – with the rugby club funding the rest.
The property will be let to Leeds City Council on a 42-year lease and under-let to the rugby and cricket and clubs jointly.
Coun Blake said it was “absolutely fantastic” to see the redevelopment take shape, adding: “Headingley is a truly iconic and world-famous sporting venue, and it is exciting that next year once the redevelopment is completed, the cricket ground will host four matches as part of the ICC Cricket World Cup and an Ashes Test match. If the redevelopment plans had not gone ahead, the prospect of Headingley and Leeds continuing to hold global sporting events and matches would have undoubtedly been under threat.
“Also at risk would be the significant economic benefits brought to Leeds and the wider region if Yorkshire CCC and the Leeds Rhinos were to no longer host top-class matches.
“Taking all of these factors into account, we could not idly stand by and do nothing to protect Headingley’s status as a home for international sport.
“We worked extremely hard therefore to secure a funding package with an external investor for the redevelopment plan, and I would again like to offer a big thank-you to Legal & General for financing the deal. To reiterate, this arrangement is privately financed, (and) is at no cost to the Leeds taxpayer.”
In the longer term the project is expected to generate additional expenditure of more than £107m by 2023.