A proposal to rebuild York City Community Stadium adjacent to the Heslington East campus has been met with resistance from figures both within and outside of YUSU.
The motion, put forward at last week’s UGM by Jason Rose, proposed to mandate YUSU to lobby the University and York City Council to make the Heslington East Development Site, or near it, the location of the new York City Community Stadium.
While Tim Atkins, the stadium Project Manager, stated that nothing has yet been confirmed, a site on Hull Road, at the edge of the Heslington East Development, is currently one of the three sites being considered for the relocation of the stadium. The current stadium, located at Bootham Crescent, is scheduled to be replaced by residential housing in the next few years.
The new proposed stadium would have an approximate capacity of 6,000, and the project includes plans to invest £1 million in athletics facilities on the same site as the stadium. Part of the University’s proposal for Heslington East has included the building of a sports centre, and some have suggested it would be financially beneficial if the two projects are combined. Ian MckAndrew, the York City Stadium Development Director, has agreed that having two separate athletics facilities in the same area would be a waste of council money.
Sam Asfahani, York Sport President-elect, expressed his strong support for the motion: “One of my main roles is to represent our York Sport members, and despite a few valid concerns I feel that a stadium near Hes. East would be extremely beneficial to sport at York. It would be easy to access for our students, making it easy for our students to go and support the local football team.”
Asfahani continued: “Ultimately the team is a conference team and the stadium will only be around 6,000 seats so the negative effects of noise, traffic and post match hooliganism may be over-estimated. If these concerns can be met then the stadium would be a great addition and York would have a unique selling point to attract future student athletes.”
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, also spoke in support of the motion: “The main concern for Heslington East is the infrastructure around it, and having this stadium built could really help develop and improve traffic and congestion in the area. It would also cut off £2 million pounds for the swimming pool, something the majority of students are in favour of, so would radically reduce costs. It would also be beneficial to students as they would have access state of the art sports facilities.”
“The stadium would be a great addition and York would have a unique selling point to attract future student athletes.”
YUSU York Sport President elect
However, the proposal has not been greeted positively by some members of the student body. Felix Bungay, Chairman of the York Tories, has argued that 6,000 people “invading” campus would cause mass disturbances to students living at Heslington East. He stated: “I thought the idea of having the stadium right next the University had not been well thought out at all. It will be detrimental to students, especially if it attracts a rowdy crowd, making it difficult to study. It would cause masses of noise and traffic, and as it would be used much more for general rather than student events, the detriments to student life outweighs the benefits.”
Lewis Bretts, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer, and Rhianna Kinchin, YUSU Student Activities Officer, also opposed the motion.
Kinchin warned that if the motion passed, it mandated YUSU to put their full support into the project, and “could end up trumping the smaller, more meaningful, projects we want to push for on Heslington East that also have a lot of student support, such as a debating chamber. It would require a huge push and I’m not sure we should be channelling all our resources into such a massive project.”
Speaking exclusively to Nouse, Rose gave his reasons for having initially proposed the motion: “Offering full support to the council would greatly speed up a project that the entire city cares about.
“As detailed in the motion, I have talked to the Chairman of York City and the various people involved in the project and it seems like it’s a good site for everyone concerned. However it seems like the University hasn’t been too cooperative in the manner and that’s the reason that I have put it to referendum – there needs to be a campaign outside of meetings but YUSU and the University need to push for it within meetings too.”
Students have expressed their enthusiasm for the potential project. One first year student, Joe Hall, commented: “I think it’s a really exciting idea. It would be amazing to have access to such good facilities, and to be so near the local team. York City are a pretty small club so I don’t reckon noise and violence would be an issue at all. Anything that helps towards building a new swimming pool has my full support.”
Full details for the rebuilding of the stadium will be outlined in a report published on 11 July.
Asfahani added to Nouse that that the Rugby League Team, York City Knights, may also be ground-sharing with York City, which could mean that the University Rugby team play there.