Minister: ‘Not the right time’ for a national sport stadium

IT is not the right time to talk about a national stadium, the Assistant Economic Development Minister has said, after he questioned whether the appetite for one was there from sports organisations.

Springfield Stadium. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31009328)
Springfield Stadium. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31009328)

Deputy Hugh Raymond, who holds political responsibility for sport, has raised concerns over whether the Island would be able to regularly fill a 2,500-capacity stadium.

Earlier this year the government released its ‘Inspiring Active Places Strategy’ which includes a suggestion to develop an elite-standard sports stadium, costing between £20 and £40 million and with a proposed capacity of over 2,500. This, the strategy said, could accommodate both football and rugby, serving the likes of Jersey Bulls and Jersey Reds.

During a recent Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny hearing, both Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham and Assistant Minister Deputy Kirsten Morel raised questions over the need for the national stadium and whether it should be at the top of Jersey’s priority list.

Deputy Raymond said he agreed with Senator Farnham and Deputy Morel, adding that there are currently ‘more important’ things to discuss.

‘It is not the right time to be talking about a national stadium. We are still transitioning out of Covid and the focus still has to be on the grassroots clubs and making sure everyone is back up and running and playing first.

‘Then there is the question of is it sustainable? I don’t think so.

‘Are we really going to be able to regularly fill a 2,500-capacity stadium?’ he said.

Deputy Raymond said that any development of a national stadium would ‘rely heavily’ on private investment.

He added that he did not believe sports organisations in the Island were ‘that keen’ on the idea.

Deputy Raymond said: ‘I have been going to watch the football, rugby and cricket over the past few weekends and everyone is happy where they are. Football have definitely made it known that they don’t want to be moved from Springfield.

‘How often can you really fill the stadium? Is the idea of a stadium going to increase the number of people going to watch? It’s not great playing in a stadium with no atmosphere and I think if you asked players, they would rather play in a smaller, packed-out venue with a great atmosphere.

‘Even if we can fill it on the odd occasion or get fixtures played there on the weekend, who is going to use it during the week? It needs to be used regularly to make it sustainable.’

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