At a cost of £78,000, Cornwall Council has today published the news that an expert report has proposed that there should be a 'Stadium for Cornwall' built in either Truro or Threemilestone. Yet the Council has yet to publish any evidence that a stadium for Cornwall is needed or would be anything other than a white elephant.
Some of my colleagues have blogged asking why the stadium should be in Truro, rather than Bodmin or elsewhere in Cornwall. They have a point. Truro is not on the main A30 and simply being in the middle of the population doesn't seem like a good enough reason. No doubt we will understand better if and when the expert report is published.
But even if the stadium were proposed for Launceston I would be very hesitant about supporting the scheme at this time.
Carolyn Rule, the Cabinet member for the Economy, is quoted as saying:
"It’s great to see the project take a step forward by identifying a location. I’m sure once it’s completed the stadium will be an inspiration to all that use it and will encourage participation in sports, as well as the economic benefits it can provide for the whole of Cornwall.”
But there is no evidence whatsoever that such a stadium will be of any economic benefit at all.
Who will use the stadium? The only sports team which could possibly justify such a ground would be the Cornish Pirates, and they only draw around 3000 fans per game. And why should Cornish taxpayers fund a stadium for one team in any case? Other uses - athletics, concerts and so on - are very worthy, but would be infrequent at best and the problems caused by these for the core user would tend to outweigh the benefits.
Just to be clear - if someone can come up with an expert report which identifies the permanent users of such a facility who can make it pay over the long term then I will happily support the stadium. But we are nowhere near that stage yet and so the scheme remains a white elephant.