Wakefield: Belle Vue is holding us back

Wakefield chairman Michael Carter says Belle Vue is an embarassment and is holding his club back from being on a level pegging with the rest of Super League.

Wakefield have been anticipating redevelopment of their stadium for the past five years to no avail. Trinity have considered previously a move to Dewsbury’s Tetley’s Stadium for their home games.

Carter told Love Rugby League plans for a new stadium are underway to be completed by November this year, but he remains overly cautious about when the work will start or finish.

“We’ve got a new landlord who’s very keen to make both sites, the ground and the old Superbowl ground next to it, he’s very keen to make both sites into one site with a ground and retail solution,” he said.

“I know he’s already drawn up plans and is working on planning permission to get that over the line. I’m still in the pessimistic camp when it comes to this brand new all-singing all-dancing stadium because we’ve been fed too many lines about what’s going to happen and what can happen.

“So until we’ve physically see a spade in the ground or a brick being laid then we’ll remain sceptical about it.

“I would love to be shouting from the rooftops that it’s going to happen but if nothing happens, I just don’t feel that we have another alternative now.

“If I’d have known three or ofur months back where we were going to be sat today maybe I would have put more emphasis on going to Dewsbury for next season, because I think things have kind of died off.

“I feel embarrassed when we’re sat in an RFL meeting or a Super League meeting where we’re talking about how we can attract crowds and grow the game and facilities and the two eyesores in Super League at this moment in time are both in Wakefield postcodes.

“For me that can’t be coincidence that that happens, Cas look like they’ve got there’s sorted, they’ve got a developer involved who seems to be proactively putting the stadium first which is fantastic for them.”

Carter believes there is little chance that Wakefield would ground-share with Castleford when the Tigers’ new stadium is finished.

“I’ve never had anything against Cas getting their own stadium,” he said.

“I think 15 years ago if me and Steve Gill had been involved at that time I think we probably would have found a solution between the two towns where we could have shared.

“I think the trouble now is the location for me, they’re going to have this brand new facility in Glasshoughton and if we went there for all intent and purposes that’s Castleford’s stadium and we’re just lodgers.

“I think surely we could have found a site, somewhere like Normanton, which is halfway between the two towns and the nearest end to Castleford is Castleford’s end and the nearest end to ours is our end.

“I’m sure between the two of us and the willing partners we could have got something sorted but unfortunately now it looks like that boat has now sailed and Cas are very close I’m led to believe to getting everything sorted for their brand new facility and good on them.

“I wish them all the best with that and that will leave us, in my opinion, being the embarrassment of Super League.

“So if we wish to stay in Super League and compete in Super League and be a proud member of Super League we need a facility that’s fit for purpose.

“And if we don’t get one I’m fully of the opinion and it’s maybe two years or three years time, the RFL or Super League could come knock on my door saying you know what we don’t want you anymore because you’re the only club that hasn’t got anything in place and I probably wouldn’t be able to argue against that.

“However, we’re competing on the field [but] you’ve got to have the off-field infrastructure behind you as well.”

Wakefield finished eighth in 2016 and have a number of promising juniors coming through the ranks.

Carter said the state of Belle Vue is his “biggest frustration” and is the final hurdle his club must pass.

“If you look at other aspects for the work that we’ve done and improved upon in the three years our community department is going from strength to strength, it has won a couple of awards at the end of last year,” he said.

“We’ve currently got the young Man of Steel, we’ve currently got the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year.

“The kids are coming through next year in our first-team squad, I think theres 12 academy products, so you’re talking 40% of your first-team squad.

“We’re still chasing the likes of Wigan and St Helens in that respect but we’re a lot better than a lot of clubs in holding on to our talent so the frustration all comes out of the ground.

“It’s depressing to work in, your sat here now on a fairly nice day in the middle of winter but we come in here on some mornings and it’ll be minus 5.

“It’ll take all day to get it warmed up, it’s just horrible to work in and then you look at a match day and your sat in an old stand.

“If your sitting down your sat in an old, cold windy stand. The corporate experience, while still being the best in the ground. still isn’t a patch on a Warrington or a Wigan or a Hull of that ilk.

“So I’m firmly of the opinion if we can get this new ground it leads to better and newer revenue streams.

“One of the things that we’ve talked about within this whole site solution that Manny is proposing is that we get some sort of retail opportunity within that, whether it’s for instance a coffee shop or something of that ilk, where we’ve got revenue coming in 300 days of the year.

“We really feel if it was something like a coffee shop people would be attracted to it because they could be also seeing the players train at the same time or the players could be in there at the same time.

“That sort of interaction it leads you in to all sorts of markets. Widnes do it very well with the health [aspect], we can we turn it into a walk in centre, a pharmacy sort of thing it opens up endless opportunities for us what a rugby league club needs to survive.

“We’re not a millions miles off even without a new ground, there’s a whole load of things in terms of attendances the whole lottery scheme, the catering side that we hold in-house.

“If we can just improve on those slightly it gives us that opportunity to spend to the full salary cap and we’re still, I believe, the lowest spending club in Super League.

“Even though I think we’ve got a really good 30 man squad within that but it would be great to be on an even keel with everybody in that competition and then say right what can we do [now], we’re not taking the field with one arm tied behind our back.

“I’d love to be able to do that at this club, we’re so close and for me this is the one big final hurdle that we have to overcome.”

 

 

 

 

 

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