City “Could Get Tax Cash” For New StadiumNovember 3, 2009
Bristol City could get taxpayers’ money to fund its new stadium at Ashton Vale.
The South West Regional Development Agency has confirmed it is in talks with the club about offering funding for the club’s new ground.
The Agency is responsible for distributing government money to projects it believes will benefit the region’s economy.
But Bristol City say any money that might come from the taxpayer would need to be in addition to selling Ashton Gate to Sainsbury’s, not instead of it.
Ian Knight, area director for the South West RDA, exclusively told Jones The News: “”We have met with Bristol City Football Club to discuss how they might be able to help take forward the proposed stadium expansion but those discussions are at a very early stage.”
He added: “It is too early to say if RDA funding would be available for this project.”
But Bristol City’s Chief Executive Colin Sexstone dismissed the suggestion that public funding could mean the club did not have to sell Ashton Gate off as a supermarket.
He said: “It would make no difference to the application for Ashton Gate. We have been in discussions with the RDA, as you would expect with a stadium of this size.
“This sort of discussion is normal in a project like this. There is a fair bit of land remediation that needs to be done. We would be looking to the RDA to help us with that.
“That’s especially true because it will create jobs and bring back an area of the city that, at the moment, can’t be used for employment.
“We’re also looking for them to help us with the infrastructure, and how people get to the site. That might be grants or might be loans. We are in discussion with them, but this issue is not central. We still need to raise the maximum we can from Ashton Gate.”
Sexstone is also adamant that any money from the RDA could not replace the money the club would get from a food store.
He said: “It certainly could not. If someone comes in and gives us the same money as we would get from a food store, they could do what they like with this site.
“They could put housing or sports centres or whatever they like on the site if they match what we would get from a food store. But there is not that sort of public money available at the moment.”
The RDA has also revealed it is committed to providing £20,000 to boost Bristol’s World Cup bid, and would provide the same sum to Plymouth, which is competing with Bristol.
The RDA’s South West Director Ian Knight said: “There are significant economic benefits of being a host city for the 2018 World Cup so we are keen to find out more about the strengths of Bristol’s bid and how it might be presented.
“The city will need to address issues such as transport infrastructure, the local environment, sustainability issues and stadium facilities.
Audio: City Chief Executive Colin Sexstone speaks to Jones The News