JACK ROGERS WRITES...
Let's face it, leaving the Willows will be traumatic for fans and officials alike, whatever the new Salford Reds stadium looks like. For many fans it has been a home for generations of their family watching the good and the bad, often from the same spot. My great grandfather saw James Lomas, my grandfather Gus Risman, my father David Watkins. Me, well I'm still waiting. The ghosts and memories of the Willows relate not just to players who have graced the turf but the fans that made their pilgrimage to that open air church on Willows Road.
For me this move is becoming more traumatic. People have rightly asked who will own the ground? Who will play there? How much it will cost the tax payer with interest on the loans? But, as yet, I haven't heard anyone ask the question about what the ground will finally look like?
When I see the site being cleared at Barton I start to worry, especially when building should commence in October. Would you buy a house if you were shown completely different plans?
The confusion is simple. For four or five years the Reds new stadium has been shown in the media and at forums as being "iconic" with a 20,000 capacity, gracefully sloping roof, filled in stadium corners. A piece of architecture as well as a functional stadium. But when the go ahead was given in May 2010 the pictures of the stadium released had changed to being 15,000 rising to 20,000 capacity, having green seats, no corners, flatter roofs, it was completely different. So which is going to be built? Why are the images so different?
A simple question I thought but I cannot get a satisfactory answer. After repeatedly contacting the architects I received a reply stating that consultations were in place with the client and an answer would be given shortly. There is nowhere on their web site that shows the Salford development, yet it shows 20 or 30 other sports builds the company has and is involved in (see here).
Salford City Council released statements through themselves and the North West Regional Development Agency to trumpet the starting of the stadium's build and indicated final plans would be submitted at the end of May 2010. Where are they? As I write I am still waiting for the answer. Why say May for the plans and make a big thing of starting, when consultations are still to take place? And why, I assume, release images of the stadium that are not correct? I say this because if they are correct then I would have been given an answer; there is no need for the secrecy.
The stadium is a joint venture, but with Peel Holdings and Salford Council putting the money in, are they calling all the shots? Is the club in the dark? Sky Sports revealed on 21st July, that the club had not responded to their questions on the new stadium's progress. Why can't they answer? Why couldn't a statement be issued? Why ignore the sports' main financier and publicist? This reflects badly upon the Salford City Reds as they receive the criticism, not their other partners (see Reds Forum here).
Someone from Peel, the Council or the club need to stand up and tell the people of Salford what is going on? Why have completely different images been released? What are we getting?
I don't doubt a stadium will be built, but it worries me when I don't know what it will be - "iconic" to show to people how good our city is? Or functional and plain?
Stop Press: 1pm 23rd July 2010
Statement just received from Salford Council...
A detailed planning application for the whole development site will be submitted to Salford's planning panel in August. It is a requirement that the government office should see the planning application before the city council finally grants planning permission.
Councillor John Merry, leader of Salford City Council said: "The stadium development is another landmark for Salford and the partnership approach means the city will be part-owner of a major sporting and community asset. I'm pleased to confirm we're on track for the new stadium to be ready for the start of the 2012 Super League and I'm sure there will be lots of community groups looking forward to using the new facilities."
See previous Salford Star stories on the stadium here and here and here...