Time to get rugby club’s de­sign over the line

Bath Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

Twenty months have passed since I wrote about a work­shop to talk about con­cepts for a new sta­dium on the Recre­ation Ground for Bath Rugby. At the time I said: “To be hon­est, it felt like Ground­hog Day be­cause we had run around this course many times be­fore. But there was a pos­i­tive spirit in the room and I left with quiet con­fi­dence that this time the process will de­liver the de­vel­op­ment the club des­per­ately need.” Since then the club has con­ducted what must be the most com­pre­hen­sive con­sul­ta­tion process ever car­ried out. It has ex­plained its en­thu­si­asm for keep­ing Premier­ship and Euro­pean Rugby in the city, some­thing that makes a tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal econ­omy. Just look at the num­ber of peo­ple in the shops, bars and restau­rants on a match day and don’t even try to cal­cu­late the value to Bath of those high shots over the abbey from the tele­vi­sion cam­eras. The club has spo­ken to every in­ter­ested party it can think of. Res­i­dents have had their say, com­mu­nity groups of all kinds have had a chance to make their opin­ions heard, even sup­port­ers have had a chance to chip in. But now comes the acid test with the un­veil­ing of the fi­nal pro­posed de­sign for a sta­dium fit for the 21st cen­tury, pro­vid­ing a proper stage for the team, a sus­tain­able busi­ness model for the com­pany, fa­cil­i­ties for the com­mu­nity, not to men­tion much needed un­der­ground car park­ing. Doubt­less not ev­ery­one will ap­prove of every el­e­ment, but surely this is the mo­ment to pro­duce such a groundswell of pop­u­lar sup­port that politi­cians will give the nec­es­sary plan­ning con­sent to get the build­ing work un­der way. It would be great to think that might hap­pen be­fore we get caught up in the lo­cal elec­tion cam­paign. I don’t sup­pose the club would say this, but in my per­sonal opin­ion I think it’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that if the plans don’t get the green light this time, there has to be a real risk that they’ll up sticks and go else­where, which would be noth­ing short of a tragedy for the city.

Bath Rugby makes a tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal econ­omy, writes Ian Bell

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