An application is set to go before a Leeds City Council licensing committee next week for the Rugby Bowl at Emerald Headingley Stadium to be allowed to host two boxing or wrestling events per year, with a maximum capacity of 25,000 people.
However, the plans have attracted objections from local residents, councillors and the Police, who worry about the possibility for such events to attract antisocial behaviour.
According to the application, such a licence would permit two events per year, on either a Friday or Saturday, to take place between the hours of midday and midnight.
The “Rugby Bowl” refers to the four stands of the rugby ground as well as the pitch, as it is hoped such events could attract up to 25,000 spectators.
The application added: “The events will be served by bars and toilets within the north, south and extentia stands, where both alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments are available.
“We anticipate that the ring will be set centrally on the pitch, with spectators occupying the rest of the pitch, the terraces and the stands.”
The plans follow a decision last year to allow the ground to host up to four music concerts in the ground per year, with no more than 19,999 spectators at each event.
But not everybody is happy with the plans.
One letter from a local resident read: “We think that neither boxing nor wrestling are suitable events for an outdoor arena that is situated amongst residential streets. The hours requested for these events are such that we can only assume there will be match and crowd noise in the daytime, in the evening and late into the night.
“Our second objection is around the potential for public nuisance, and particularly noise, litter, waste, and street fouling.”
A letter signed by six local councillors added: “As the stadium are aware (sic); councillors receive frequent complaints about parking in residential streets when rugby matches are on and the disturbance this causes to local residents.
“We are gravely concerned that the license application outlines that people will be leaving the Stadium up to 12.30am which is much later than current finishing times. We object to this in the strongest terms.
“Most people attending the Stadium park in residential areas in the Headingley, Burley and Queenswood areas. We anticipate significant disturbance to local residents caused by up to 25,000 people leaving the Stadium at 12.30-1am.
“Extending the serving of alcohol until 12am with an additional request for an extra half hour in order to allow for people to start vacating the premises would mean a realistic, actual finishing time of nearer 1am. We are concerned this will result in extreme noise disturbance for our residents. If this license is approved (which we are strongly requesting is not the case) we would insist that alcohol is only served till 10pm as with current events.”
An objection to the plans from West Yorkshire Police stated that the application contained “insufficient information” on how organisers would prevent crime and disorder and improve public safety.
It went on to suggest tighter safety measures, including improved CCTV, a check 21 alcohol scheme, a search policy, and a commitment to no glass drinking receptacles.
In the application, the stadium’s owners state: “All outdoor related events will adopt the same facility standards and conditions as required at all rugby league and rugby union fixtures to promote the prevention of crime and disorder.
“Stewarding and policing deployments will be calculated based on spectator attendance and crowd intelligence at the pre planning stages.
“All other existing policies and strategies will be adopted to ensure public safety.
“We are mindful of residents and will adopt a policy consistent with existing procedures to minimise noise and light disruption. Floodlights will be dimmed by 11pm and no bottle bins or waste will be emptied or collected until the next day.
“We are a family-oriented business and do not provide entertainment of a sexual or adult nature. We have key on site personnel trained in safeguarding measures who are DBS checked and trained to deal with lost children and vulnerable adults.”
Leeds City Council’s Licensing Sub Committee will meet to discuss the plans on Tuesday, April 20.