Monday, 7 February 2011

Stadium for Cornwall - now the Council says it is happening

The local press is reporting that the Stadium for Cornwall has been given 'a shot in the arm' by the commitment from the owner of the Cornish Pirates to fund a facility for a guaranteed 10 year period.

The Cabinet member is quoted as saying that:

"positive discussions have taken place with our partners and their commitment to working with us to deliver a venue that will promote sporting excellence in Cornwall."

Bear in mind that the Council has expressed its concerns about the plans by refusing to allocate any funding for the coming year and councillors were told that no deals have yet been done on the subject.

How this squares with the description of our 'partners' and 'delivering a venue' is beyond me.

As I have said before - if a private company or individual wants to move ahead with a stadium then good luck to them. But I do not think that Cornwall Council should be using taxpayers' money to fund such a project. Reading between the lines on Mr Evans' statement, a stadium would still need money to be built and for running costs after the initial 10 year period.

It sounds to me like the Council is pressing ahead with this project deaf to the views of the majority of elected councillors.


Duncan said...

Alex I find you negative view of the stadium really worrying. You're a coucilor elected to improve your area. Can you tell me any other projects that are happening that will boost the local economy and provide publicity for Cornwall? And If those projects have any private funding offered to them?
I wrote this on a forum, please take the time read it.

From what I can see there are two main opposing factors to the Stadium, a financial (economic) one and the impact on other local rugby clubs. Here’s how I see it.

If you look at some basic numbers based on its primary use (seasonal rugby). The average number of “away” premiership fans would be around 2000 (less from clubs like Newcastle & Sale, but more from Leicester, Northampton & Bath etc) if the average spend was around £100 per person (B&B’s, restaurants, shops, pubs, taxi’s etc) that means on each home game around £200,000 would go into the local economy. So:
10 home games (minimum) = £2 million
10 years (Dicky’s fixed plan) = £20 Million

Then if you factor in Cup Rugby, European and pre season friendlies the fixtures could double bringing in anything from 20 to 40 Million pounds (from outside the county). Our council have so far put in £80,000 if they put in 2 to 4 million pounds (which if what we hear is true they won’t have to) then for every pound they put in they can expect 10 to go back into the local economy. This is “off season” revenue a dream for local business! These numbers are crude I know but not unrealistic.

As for the impact on other local clubs, I would guess there main worry is a financial one and a drop in numbers at the club. With regard to the money worry, one of the biggest sources of income to a club must be sponsorship and advertising. If the economy is getting boosted by the sort of numbers above then surely there is going to be more business willing to sponsor or able to advertise, especially if Rugby is what’s being talked about.

As for numbers I guess a lot of the people worried by this remember the “good old days” when Cornwall were a force in the County Championships (40,000 to Twickenham). Did that not inspire many kids to get into rugby? Well like it or not the County Championship is not fashionable anymore. It’s all about the Premiership and European rugby. If Cornwall had a premiership team would it not inspire thousands of kids to get into the sport? Would they not need clubs to play at. This would also boost the gates as lots of the crowds are friend and families of the players (I started watching the Pirates because two of my school friends played for them).

I’m in my early 30’s and I have watched many of my friends have to leave Cornwall because they can’t afford to stay here. I genuinely feel that if the county keeps opposing projects like this then we will become the retirement/second home capital of Britain, a disaster for the local economy. The council should be “putting an arm around” Dicky not fighting him every step.

Alex Folkes said...

Hi Duncan
Thanks for the comment. I'm not opposed to the stadium per se. I just don't think that taxpayers' money should be put into it at a time when we are (for instance) proposing to cut supporting people funding by 40%.

I'm also not opposing it on the grounds of the possible impact on other clubs. I agree with your comments on this aspect to a large extent.

I worry that the calculations are based soley on the Pirates being a Premiership club. I hope they win promotion, but it is not a foregone conclusion and neither is any club's ability to stay there once promoted.

I used to be involved in the running of a football club with an average home gate of 3,000. Not on the same scale as the Pirates currently manage, but roughly in the same ballpark (pun acknowledged). We based all of our costs on the expectation of staying where we were and going out of cups at the earliest opportunity - a mixed worst case scenario, but a realistic one. I would hope and expect that the Pirates plan in a similar manner. If promotion does not come then what are the financial projections?

I'm afraid that I do not share your view on the finances being brought into Cornwall. Of course there will be some who make a weekend of it. But the majority of travelling fans will come in and out of Cornwall without buying anything more than their ticket and a drink in the ground.

I have no doubt that money spent is likely to be matched by outside spend, but there are a large number of projects which the Council has rejected which could also do similar.

If the stadium can be built and run in perpetuity without council funding then I would be all behind it. I have heard the same statements that you have but have yet to see anything on paper. When I do, I hope I will be satisfied. Until then, I remain sceptical.

Duncan said...

Thanks for reading it Alex.
I'm interested in a couple of points you raise. Firstly the 40& cut in "supporting people funding", what exactly is this and 40% of what amount?
If we have to make cuts then surely the council should be embracing people who want to invest there money in the county, for the benefit of the county?
Also you mention "a large number of other projects the council have rejected which co do the same (put millions into the economy)". Really, why are the council turning away investment? Can you give any specific's?
We all know that times are hard and cuts have to made, but if the council only cut and say no, then when does it turn around? And what are we left with if/when it does? In any investment there is an element of risk, I just can't see the "risk out weighing the "reward" on this project.
Just as a side note, I used to travel to watch football matches and the I personally think the ball park figure of £100 per person consumer spend is conservative?!

Alex Folkes said...

Hi Duncan
Supporting people is the funding used to help homeless people and people at risk of homelessness and includes supporting vulnerable people in their own homes. Our govt funding has stayed roughly the same as last year but the Council has chosen to slash our spending by 40%. We believe that this will lead to a real risk of increased crime, drug use and people on the streets. If ever there was a case of spending money to save larger amounts in the future then I think this is it.

I think there are core services which the council should put above all else. Others should be considered when we have the money to be able to afford them. But (if council money is to be requested for a stadium) then the key is the viability - for which we await the consultant's report in March.