Avenue unveil new stadium plan

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Avenue chief executive Bob Blackburn with the plans for the ground at Phoenix Park behind him Avenue chief executive Bob Blackburn with the plans for the ground at Phoenix Park behind him

After days of secrecy the location of Bradford Park Avenue football club's new home has been revealed as Phoenix Park in Thornbury.

The 36-acre site is currently a golf course and leisure complex and has been up for sale for a price tag of £1 million.

It was announced on Friday that chief executive Bob Blackburn had agreed terms on the site and wants to create a 20,000 seat stadium as well as sporting facilities for the community. The stadium would be covered on all four sides with safe terracing behind both goals and include a conference centre, meeting suites and corporate boxes, allowing it to be hired out for concerts and events.

The rest of the site would be given over to indoor and outdoor Astroturf pitches, five-a-side pitches, tennis, as well as indoor and outdoor cricket pitches.

Mr Blackburn is to consult architects next week over the design and wants to incorporate solar power into the development. He hopes detailed plans will be ready to submit to Leeds Council planners - as the site is just the other side of the Bradford/Leeds authority border - within three months.

He told the Telegraph & Argus: "It is proposed to put a super stadium on the site with sporting facilities for the community, including outdoor and indoor training pitches and to create a home for our many academy teams and ladies team to train. We also want to create outside and indoor 3G pitches, cricket facilities and to put something back into my community - and of course a home for Bradford Park Avenue.

"A 20,000 seat stadium would also enable the team to grow into the football league. We are not letting the grass grow under our feet with this one."

He said his company Kelvic Holdings, which has bought the site, is also to fund the building of the stadium, although he is hoping to tap into some Government funding and receive help from the Football Foundation.

Bradford Park Avenue has made their home at Horsfall Stadium since they won promotion to the UniBond League more than a decade ago.

And until the announcement this week they were part of plans to create a sports village at Odsal being masterminded by Bradford Council, which owns the Horsfall site.

The Council's executive member for regeneration Councillor Andrew Mallinson said he was surprised by the turn of events.

He said: "A decision had been taken to change the content of Odsal Sports Village which would see the Bradford Bulls and Bradford Park Avenue sharing the same stadium. We had drawn up plans with the architects to add extra changing rooms and reconfigure the stands.

"Obviously Bradford Park Avenue have been running a different set of plans and we haven't been kept informed. They could have indicated they were pursuing other avenues."

He said he was "miffed" by the revelations, but the sports village would still go ahead without the football club on board.

Mr Blackburn responded by saying: "I am a doer and they have been talking about the project at Odsal for 20 years. That is a non-starter before it's got off the ground. We hope to have our stadium completed in two years."

The news comes in a week that has also seen the shock dismissal of Bradford Park Avenue manager Benny Phillips.

e-mail: jo.winrow @telegraphandargus.co.uk

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