BRADFORD (Park Avenue) are looking for help from Bradford businesses to raise a significant amount of the £500,000 needed to install a 3G pitch as part of a community sports hub after they gained a 30-year lease on Horsfall Stadium.

The pitch would be used by the club's teams but also be a facility for youngsters in the city and allow other local amateur football clubs and rugby teams to play on a quality all-weather surface.

Securing the lease on the ground from Bradford Council has now enabled the club to apply for financial support from The Football Stadia Improvement Fund to allow for some much-needed upgrades on the ground.

The fund would be used to improve the perimeter fence, lighting around the stadium, disability access, additional hospitality and improve road access.

But Avenue chairman Gareth Roberts explained that money for the 3G pitch will have to be found from elsewhere.

He said: “We need to find the money to fund the 3G pitch, around £500,000.

“We want to commit to it by January and are hoping to start work on it in May after our season.

“The Football Foundation (the charity funded by the Premier League, the Football Association and the Government) won’t put one in here because our league (Avenue play in National League North) requires a different standard of 3G pitch, which they don’t support.

“Secondly, we want to put a crash mat underneath ours so you can play rugby, which they also don’t support.

“It is a great opportunity for this region, it has been lacking in facilities. Park Avenue is building this for the community.

“If we can get out there and speak to some of the bigger Bradford communities, I am confident we can gain that support.

“The future of the club depends on the 3G pitch allowing kids to play on, which generates support from adults."

Roberts hopes to get big companies based in Bradford involved in the project. He said: "I would love to go see them with an outline of what we are doing.”

When speaking at a fans' forum, Roberts was questioned on a range of subjects, from the running costs of the 3G pitch to parking and the whole project's sustainability.

The Avenue owner claims Sport England could provide a helping hand with other facilities around the ground and thinks maintaining an artificial pitch would work out cheaper than the current grass pitch.

He said: “The (new) pitch will last at least eight years. It will probably cost £150,000 to replace it.

“The running track is still the council’s responsibility and it will currently be staying.

“We have got to go to Sport England who could potentially help us. We have got connections there and would like a new changing block. The running track is going to stay for now.

“We have talked about maximising the spaces around the ground for parking, potentially adding 180 places, and we have spoken to Yorkshire Water who said we could use their parking facilities if we had a big crowd.”

Roberts says acquiring the lease from Bradford Council provides the green light for developing Horsfall into a community sports hub.

He said: “We have been trying to gain the lease for the five years I have been here. The ground has been something that has held us back."

He added: “Having the ground under the long-term lease allows us to tap into a football stadia improvement fund.

“This will allow us to finish the perimeter fence, improve the lighting around the stadium, and hopefully acquire a hospitality block.

“That is what we can get out of the stadium improvement fund but they won’t help us with the 3G pitch we want to put in.”