COUNCILLORS will be urged to seriously consider proposals to develop a community stadium with Hearts – despite the prospect apparently being ruled out by the city’s economic development leader last week.
A £30,000 report jointly commissioned by Hearts and the council was finally published today concluding that redeveloping Tynecastle was not an option and urging the council to take “an active role” in developing a multi-purpose, community stadium in west Edinburgh.
The report’s publication follows comments made by SNP councillor Tom Buchanan, the economic development convenor, that the community stadium deal was “a consultant’s idea” and “will be not coming back before the council as a serious option”.
Senior council sources have revealed Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov was “furious” at the stadium deal apparently being ruled out before the report was made public.
The city council’s top development official Dave Anderson told the News it would be a “failure of ambition” not to examine the plans.
He said: “Huge investment is currently being made in Glasgow’s sporting infrastructure to support the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“It would be a failure of ambition if Scotland’s capital city, which is forecast to see its population grow to over 530,000 over the next 20 years, did not begin to think seriously about sporting infrastructure.”
He added: “The difficulties associated with redeveloping Tynecastle won’t go away, should the council simply choose to ignore them to pursue the many other priorities that the city is facing.”
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, a Hearts season ticket holder, said: “Dave Anderson is very experienced and well respected in the area of economic development and his views have to be borne in mind.
“I’m not resurrecting this Hearts thing again, but I certainly think we have to look at the city as a whole, look at what it does provide and its long-term future and see if the current provision will take us there.
“The advice of the officials in this regard is invaluable and all councillors [will be] looking forward to having access to their views.
“It would appear there’s a different emphasis placed on the future sports provison on the city between a leading official and a senior councillor and its worth bottoming out for the sake of the city to see what happens.”
The DoigSmith and GVA report, seen by the Evening News, concludes that redeveloping Tynecastle is not a “viable option” and suggests the council may be able to contribute land for a new stadium.
The report explores four potential ways for funding. It suggests Prudential Borrowing by the council, Hearts could explore traditional lending from banks, selling club assets or raising funds through additional development such as a student village, hotel or offices.
Jason Rust the Conservative group finance spokesman, said: “I think we need much greater clarity on the stance the administration is taking.
“As a group, we are saying it’s something in principle that can be looked at but we want to see what is being proposed.
“There is a lack of information and the situation seems to be changing day by day.
“It doesn’t suggest that the council is fully in command of what’s happening.”