More than £45m has been spent on redeveloping the stands and facilities at the historic home of both Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, including new banqueting and corporate facilities to host hundreds of guests both for match days and standalone events.
The last phase of work is underway to redevelop the shared stand between the cricket and rugby stadia and bosses say the finished site will be a world class facility for both venues.
Jamie Peacock, who enjoyed nine highly successful years as a player at Leeds Rhinos, recently returned to the club to form part of the Super League’s commercial team.
His new role will see him both run a Business Club for companies in the city as well as host matchday events at the stadium in a new Emerald suite which affords panoramic views of both the cricket and rugby grounds from each side.
Mr Peacock said he considered the facilities, which will open full time from May, to be the best in the city and that Leeds now has sports stadia to match the quality of its economy and cultural offering.
The former England Rugby League captain told The Yorkshire Post: “I think it will be one of the premier rooms to host events here in Leeds.
“You can get a very large number of people in here and I think it will be the best place to host any kind of event in Leeds.
“There has been £45m spent on this stadium. You can view an international stadium from either side. Leeds as a city is booming. It is the second largest finance centre. We have great technology firms and shopping.
“But it will be great to have top sporting venues too.
“Leeds United are on the up which is good to see but Leeds Rhinos historically over the last 10-15 years have been one of the great success stories within sport.
“I think it is key now to attract people from outside the city to come into Leeds and watch the Rhinos and have a day of hospitality here as part of your weekend while enjoying the bars and sport.”
The new Emerald Suite is directly accessible from the Pavilion in the cricket ground, meaning guests no longer have to walk outside to enter.
It will be able to host more than 500 people when finished and stadium bosses hope that it will stage large conferences, dinners and events throughout the year.
Mr Peacock, who won six Grand Finals, two World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups during his time as a Rhinos player, said that he considered the new banqueting and corporate facilities to be as good as any stadium in the country.
“The hashtag for the game at the moment is #newbeginnings and I think it is that way for the club,” he said.
“The South Stand is now open and that was a great occasion on Boxing Day. Leeds now has one of the best facilities in the city to entertain people and the hospitality will be second to none. I think it will be as good as it gets in this country.”
Mr Peacock will also be looking to involve the city’s corporate community at a far higher level with the team via the new Business Club.
He ran a comparable scheme during his time in charge of fellow Yorkshire side Hull Kingston Rovers and said that it would give bosses an insight into the leadership and tactics that can make both businesses and sports teams a success.
He said: “I think most business clubs people go to can be a bit stale and too formal, whereas this brings together a love that everyone has with sport.”
Speaking of the scheme he ran in Hull, he said: “It is all about giving an insight into sport and it worked extremely well.
“We had great engagement and people really enjoyed the fact that it was a more relaxed atmosphere. Everyone did business with each other, they all got to learn about sport and they found that there are a lot of lessons that are quite transferable from sport to business.
“We will be talking about tactics and that is something that you can take over to business.
“You need a connection and I think that this business club gives you the means of doing that.
“It will be relaxed. We will spend time at York Races.
“One of the events will be an insight into the sport from me and Kevin (Sinfield, former captain and current director of rugby at Leeds Rhinos).
“The idea is to have a bit of fun along the way. We all want to do business but I think there is something important about enjoying yourself.
“I know it will be a success, it worked well at Hull KR and I am sure it will work here.
“My main objective is to bring people together who have a love of sport and want to make good connections.
“Anything I do in life I want to deliver more than I said I would do and that is my aim with the business club.”