Castleford Tigers abandon plans for new stadium to stay at Wheldon Road

IT IS a saga that has rumbled on for more than a decade, but Castleford Tigers now appear to have given up on plans for a move to a new, purpose-built stadium close to junction 32 of the M62 at Glasshoughton.

No go: Castleford Tigers are planning to stay at their Wheldon Road home rather than move to a proposed new stadium at Junction 32 of the M62.Picture: Tony Johnson

The club yesterday confirmed they are in discussions with Wakefield Council and the site owners about the possibility of remaining at their current Wheldon Road base.

Tigers were apparently given the green light for a move in both 2010 and 2015, but redeveloping their existing home is now the preferred option.

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Wakefield Council last Friday announced its intention to give the club up to £2m, as part of a new Rugby League Resilience Fund, to invest in their current stadium and improve community use.

Cash boost: Tigers are planning to improve their current stadium with the help of money from Wakefield Council. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

That would coincide with the Axiom scheme at Junction 32 being refocused away from retail and leisure uses, with a high-quality employment and commercial development being proposed in its place.

Tigers say they would use the investment to help towards funding a major redevelopment of Wheldon Road, bringing the club’s home up to modern standards.

Subject to securing the investment necessary, key elements of the club’s proposals would be to demolish and rebuild the main stand and modernise the existing Princess Street Stand, Railway End and Wheldon Road End.

Tigers say a “rich mix of new facilities, including food and drink outlets and hospitality suites would enhance the matchday experience for fans, while new conference facilities and meeting rooms would boost non-matchday income and enable the club to further enhance its work within the community”.

Tigers’ managing director Mark Grattan said: “We welcome the council’s announcement on making a contribution towards our plans to improve our home stadium on Wheldon Road.

“There is already an urgent need to invest significant sums to keep Wheldon Road functioning as a Super League ground.

“Being realistic about the timeframes to deliver the retail and leisure development with the new stadium following the Covid-19 pandemic, from the club’s perspective we believe the time is right to explore the option of staying at our historic home.

“We believe that, although major new investment is needed to improve the existing stadium, this would now be in the best long-term interests of Castleford Tigers. ”

The Axiom retail and leisure development has full planning approval, but the likely start of construction has been delayed during the Covid pandemic.

It is estimated switching the Junction 32 area from leisure and retail use to employment and commercial space would create around 1,800 on-site jobs and almost 600 elsewhere to support it, plus more than 650 roles during construction.

Steve McBurney, spokesman for the owners of the Junction 32 site, said: “We support Castleford Tigers’ intention to stay at an improved Wheldon Road stadium.”