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'We'll invest £6m in Odsal Stadium over three years'
Bradford Bulls’ new owners have exclusively revealed plans to invest up to £6 million in Odsal Stadium over three years to turn the ground into “the Wembley of the North” – but have warned it will take time to turn the club around.
Restaurant boss Omar Khan and former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who were unveiled to fans on the pitch before the side’s Super League home clash against Hull FC on Saturday, spoke of their vision of transforming the stadium into a go-to “destination” with concerts, a cafe and museum – and revealed plans for a possible groundshare with bidding rivals Bradford Park Avenue.
Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus after watching the side suffer its heaviest defeat of the season, Bradford South Labour MP Mr Sutcliffe said he wanted Odsal to be used “seven days a week, 52 weeks a year”.
“We want it to be a place of inspiration. A place for people to go ‘wow’.”
And Mr Khan, who is believed to have bought the club for £150,000, with a further £100,000 due in 2015, added: “Our vision is for Odsal to become a proper sporting village, and I guarantee you, in the long-term, we will achieve it.”
Mr Sutcliffe, who is honorary chairman of Mr Khan’s OK Bulls Limited, said the pair would be working with partners to achieve their dream at Odsal, with a plan to invest between £5-6 million at the site over three years.
He revealed how he and Mr Khan plan to hold talks Bradford University and Bradford College to discuss hosting sports academies, Bradford Council about using the ground’s classrooms – and say they hope to arrange a meeting with bosses at Bradford Park Avenue about sharing a ground at Odsal.
“Park Avenue was also bidding for the for club, so we know they have an interest in Odsal,” Mr Sutcliffe said.
“At the moment, nothing’s ruled in and nothing’s ruled out. We’d like to see a cafe open there every day, we want it to be a place where people visit even when there’s no match on. There’s definitely potential for a museum.
“Odsal’s within an hour of eight million people. We want to turn it into a destination.”
But the MP admitted it could take around two years to get the club back to a position of financial stability and warned “tough decisions” needed to be made.
The pair plan to hold talks with Bulls staff today and say they will make annoucements about the club’s structure soon – although its future in the top-flight is not secure.
The Rugby Football League is expected to hold a mini-round of licensing in the next week, where it will consider bids from the leading Championship clubs and Bradford as to who is best suited to being the 14th Super League club next season.