Leeds councillors to consider £4million grant for Headingley Stadium redevelopment

Leeds, Leeds Star

Senior councillors in Leeds will consider a request to contribute £4million to a redevelopment of Headingley Stadium to secure continued international cricket at the world-famous venue at a meeting next week.

At the meeting to be held at Civic Hall on 27 July, the council’s executive board will debate a request by Yorkshire County Cricket Club for council support for its £28.5million proposed redevelopment of the North-South Stand at Headingley.

The redevelopment is needed to improve facilities at the ground to ensure it can host four matches in the 2019 Cricket World Cup and also for it to be considered to continue hosting international matches from 2020 and beyond.

The proposed redevelopment would see the existing North-South Stand demolished and replaced with a new three-tier stand with a capacity for 5060 spectators, an increase of over 1400 seats on the current stand. Corporate and hospitality facilities would also be upgraded along with improved connections to the rest of the ground.

The work on the new stand would be expected to realise economic benefits of £5.75m for Leeds and £5.3m of additional visitor spend in Yorkshire per year, as well as securing the benefits of hosting the 2019 Cricket World Cup which are estimated to be £20.5m. It would also create 30 new full time equivalent jobs and eight new apprenticeships.

Headingley is one of the most iconic cricket grounds and sporting venues in the world, having hosted Test matches since 1899. It is the scene of many of the most memorable moments in cricket history, including Ian Botham’s legendary performance in England’s incredible comeback victory over Australia in The Ashes in 1981.

The potential loss of international cricket being played at the venue would negatively impact on the profile of Leeds and Yorkshire on a national and world level, and reputationally would be a blow to the city’s bid to become 2023 European Capital of Culture.

It would also have a potentially negative impact on cricket in Leeds and Yorkshire, which is currently riding high with Yorkshire’s men’s and women’s teams both being reigning County Champions, the first time the feat has been achieved by the same county in the same year.

Cricket is a major sport in the county, with Yorkshire alone having more cricket clubs (778) than there are in the whole of Australia, with the game being played in Yorkshire by approximately 130,000 players.

It is a sport played by a wide range of ages and by boys and girls, men and women. It also brings communities in Yorkshire together to both play the game and also support the many countries playing international cricket when matches are played at Headingley.

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“Yorkshire and cricket are practically synonymous and Headingley rolls off the tongue of people worldwide when discussing some of the great international cricket matches. Cricket at Headingley also makes a significant contribution to the economy in Leeds, bringing people in to see our wonderful city.

“So we have to work to keep international cricket at Headingley; an aim I am sure we can all get behind. This contribution, if passed, will give us a chance to ensure some more exciting international cricketing action coming from Yorkshire.”