The Rugby Football League Board is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Bradford City Council and the Bradford Bulls, the Bradford partnership group. This allows the partnership to explore redevelopment opportunities for schemes at the Odsal Stadium site and immediate surrounding area with the permission of the RFL Board. The MOU is non-binding.
The partnership group can now look at options with commercial developers to transform the stadium and surrounding site, into a flagship sports/leisure/commercial gateway to the city centre for residents and visitors, including ancillary retail, food and beverage and hotel accommodation.
Tony Sutton, RFL Chief Operating Officer, said:
“We are committed to the protection of our sport at the site. This is our primary duty as the national governing body and the reason why the RFL originally stepped in. The market value of the site has been monitored and reviewed during the period of RFL ownership, and notwithstanding the inherent challenges with the valuation of such a unique property, the RFL Board have ensured the value of the site is sincerely reflected in the RFL’s accounts.
“The proposed redevelopment of Odsal Stadium will be contingent on the protection of professional rugby league in Bradford – this means sustaining and developing professional rugby league in the city, and ensuring that a redevelopment delivers a stadium that meets Super League Minimum Standards.
“A sale of the stadium has not taken place; and the RFL has answered all enquiries about the site with the same information. The Board’s position has been consistent as publicly stated at the time of the Bradford Northern administration in 2016 – a focus on sustaining and growing the sport in Bradford.”
As the freeholders of the stadium and surrounding land, the Council has re-confirmed its support for the owners of Bradford Bulls RLC and its plans for the future of the stadium in the context of the council’s own plans for the adjoining sports centre. This represents a multi-agency approach which has the support of the council, and brings together Bradford Bulls RLC and several parties committed to both rugby league and the growth of other sports on the wider site including football and cricket; and further and higher education stakeholders in the city.
Tony Sutton added:
“The Rugby Football League acts in the interests of the whole sport, and since 2011 the RFL has held this asset for the wider benefit of the game. The RFL Board will assess whether there are any viable options following the partnership group’s discussions with developers in the market. We will keep stakeholders updated.”