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Hold Your Breath For The New Stadium 

Coventry City’s eventual openness about the new arena is welcome, but is the city going to end up with a big white elephant?

The project directors know that there are huge risks with grandiose schemes. Costs can easily soar, and the new stadium in north Coventry is no exception.

The fact that the NEC Group is to get involved with the stadium is good news. It makes it highly unlikely that a crippling rival is built ten miles away at the NEC.

But with a leisure-based operation comes expensive extras. Banqueting facilities, conference space – the sort of thing that recently put the Wembley project in the balance.

True, the Sky Blues’ scheme is smaller, yet still highly impressive. The fact that a proven local operator that could otherwise be a competitor is on board is more heart-warming than seeing Ken Bates at the helm.

Will this put football in the shade though? Coventry City performances hardly inspire huge crowds to turn up – even home games against Manchester United and Aston Villa have failed to sell this season.

It isn’t impossible, statistically at least, for the Sky Blues to be in the third division by the time the stadium is now expected to open.

Does this mean that the club’s interest will be shunted to one side? If the football side isn’t paying its way, will players have to be sold to make up?

At the moment we are being assured that this is not the case, that there is a different company to run the stadium’s affairs, but if the club does decline it will become a barrier to more lucrative events.

And what happens if the entertainment side fails, if the leisure-industry bubble pops, if there is a recession by the time the stadium opens.

Will people want to battle down the M6 to a huge cavern where people can barely see the performance, when they won’t be able to park when they get there because of a “green” directive issued by the government during the planning stage.

These are largely questions that only time can answer. The meticulous approach the club seems to be taken must be applauded, even it is frustrating for on-lookers.

One can only hope that they’ve got their sums right, otherwise the whole city could end up with egg on its face.

What do you think about the new stadium? Email our letters page at, calling your message “New Stadium”.

SEE [15 DEC 00] SKY BLUES 'ARENA 2003' TO COST £172m

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CWN / Comment / 15 Dec 00
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