Speedway could make a dramatic return to Bradford 16 years after it was scrapped, the sport’s president declared last night.
The sport disappeared from the city in 1997 – immediately after Bradford Dukes won speedway’s inaugural Elite League title.
A planning application has now been submitted to Bradford Council for speedway racing at Odsal Stadium.
It would allow a new team – the only club in West Yorkshire – to be based there and play in the National League, probably no sooner than 2014.
The nearest teams to Bradford are Elite League Manchester-based outfit Belle Vue, and Premier League clubs Sheffield and Scunthorpe.
The man behind the plan, Tony Mole, was responsible for bringing speedway back to Birmingham. He was confident of reinstating a sport that used to attract crowds of between 6,000 and 10,000 in Bradford.
“I think there is a need and a demand for a speedway team in Bradford,” said Mr Mole, who is president of British Speedway.
“If it had not been for opposition from the Council in past seasons it would have come back many years before.
“There is definitely a market for it in Bradford and West Yorkshire. The first hurdle is the planning application.”
Mr Mole, who has been a licensed speedway promoter for more than 25 years, added: “I think the Council will find it difficult to refuse the application. The stadium had established use for over ten seasons in the past.
“Bradford Dukes were in the Elite League in 1997, but were forced to cease due to a decision by Bradford Council to rebuild the stadium with a dome to make it enclosed.
“The developer never undertook the work. Closing the speedway should never have happened.
“I made an application to Bradford Council in February 1998 to bring speedway to Odsal for one or two seasons, but it was refused because the pending development of the stadium was apparently imminent.”
A decision either way is due by June 10.
Mr Mole, who is a businessman based in Kidderminster, said he was not really looking beyond that date as yet, but added: “When we are successful, the aim would be to build a track to the specification of the Speedway Control Bureau.
“I have been a lifelong supporter of speedway racing in Britain and I believe Odsal is a very strong possibility.”
Gerry Sutcliffe, co-chairman of the Bradford Bulls, who play Super League at Odsal, welcomed the news but raised a concern. He said: “The problem, as I understand it, is they don’t use shale anymore, they use a compound which gets washed away after each meet. The drainage system at Odsal will not take this compound being washed away, and we cannot afford to replace it.”
But he added: “I would love to see speedway back at Odsal. We want to maximise the use of the stadium and we want to attract other sports as well.
“We are talking to basketball, table tennis, and others, to get the most out of the stadium.”
His Bulls’ co-chairman Omar Khan said: “It is a great thing – we would love it. I don’t see any problem with it. Speedway was very successful in Bradford previously. If it can be done from a health and safety point of view, and if it is feasible, I have no problem with it.
“As long as the stadium is making money, that’s all I care about.”
No-one at the Rugby Football League, which owns the lease at Odsal, was available for comment last night.