NOV 01] THE STUART LINNELL
New Stadium Wait Is Nearly Over
The city of Coventry will have a
new football stadium. The long wait is nearly over.
We are still waiting for the
Football Association to finally resolve the issue of the siting
of the new national stadium, but that has moved a fateful step
closer to a solution.
WORKS - NEXT HOME FOR THE NEW NATIONAL STADIUM?
The team working on Coventry’s
national stadium bid have got their retaliation in first,
responding to leaks to the media that the Government task force
had listed the three competing sites with Wembley in first
place, Birmingham second and Coventry third.
The Coventry response is that the
task force has mysteriously more than doubled the price tag
required to build the stadium in Coventry, partly by loading it
with a totally unnecessary “contingency” budget – “in
case things go wrong” – and by adding what can only be
described as the Wembley weighting.
By artificially inflating the
only rival bid that could possibly work – the Birmingham bid
having been proven to be impractical and untenable on both cost
and planning grounds – the “keep it in London” brigade are
inevitably protecting their own interests.
Wembley fails on every test the
Government could pose – but remember, so did the Dome at
Greenwich and so does the proposed new Coventry 'super-hospital'
at Walsgrave, yet the former was built regardless and,
regrettably, the same will happen to the latter. The Dome was a
disaster for the public purse just as the new hospital will
prove to be a massive own-goal for health care in Coventry.
In both cases, apart from other
considerations, the location is just plain wrong. So it will be
for a new national stadium to be built at Wembley.
Oh, I know the traditionalists
will point to history and the romantic association with all that
happened under the old twin towers. After experiencing one of
the truly memorable moments of my life there in 1987,
I fully understand and appreciate that argument.
But we all have to accept that
time moves on.
The nation demands something
better than Wembley provided. A modern stadium in a location
easily accessible by all. Where better than at the heart of the
nation – Coventry (and much better at the heart than the
armpit, eh Birmingham?)?
When I interviewed Coventry City
Council Leader, Councillor Nick Nolan, about all this for Sky
Sports News, he told me that the FA and its Chief Executive Adam
Crozier were vacillating and he implied, very clearly, that
Coventry was the victim of a stitch-up by the powers that be.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of
all this – and I agree with Nick Nolan that Coventry has
hardly been treated fairly thus far – it means that Coventry
City Football Club and its long-suffering faithful are still no
nearer realising the dream of their own new stadium.
Except they are. While all the
politicking and wrangling over the national stadium has been
going on, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes to
prepare for the building of a new home for the Sky Blues –
either at the old Foleshill Gas Works site if the national
stadium doesn’t want it – or at an as yet un-named
alternative location if we do win the national venue battle.
In fact, I understand that had
the FA made their announcement last month as originally planned,
work would have already started to build the replacement for
As it is, the anticipated
time-scale is for an FA decision before Christmas with the
construction of a new stadium for the City under way early in
the New Year.
I know that rumours continue to
the effect that “it will never be built” or “I’ll
believe it when I see it”, but I don’t believe it will be
too long now before we all see something tangible as a reward
for our patience.
As for the latest gossip on the
pub circuit that a “For Sale” sign has gone up at the
gasworks site, there was nothing of the sort there when I
visited it this week, other than notices that have been erected
for months indicating the uncertain and dangerous nature of the
place in its present state.
Lets hope that we will soon see
it gain a reputation of uncertainty and danger for visiting