NEW images of the stadium intended to transform Scotland’s oldest rugby club have been unveiled ahead of developers presenting their proposals at a public event tonight.
Edinburgh Academicals intend to build a 5000- spectator venue in Stockbridge to secure the future of the club and attract more fans to games.
Raeburn Place – the site of the first Scotland v England match in 1871 – is currently under-used and previous plans for a clubhouse and new grounds fell through two years ago.
The new stadium would provide covered seating for 2500 fans and could cater for another 2500 standing.
Accies have managed to secure some funds from a handful of wealthy fans but will require to build and lease between three and nine retail units to pay for the development.
Traders fear that supermarket chains such as Tesco will move into the units and detract from locally owned businesses.
However, the Evening News has learned that the upmarket American chain Whole Foods has expressed an interest in the area should the stadium bid fall through and force Accies to sell off the nine-acre site.
Senior figures involved in the development said they could not guarantee that supermarket chains would not look to open “metro” stores in new retail units but said they had already received interest from established local traders looking to expand.
They also suggested the stadium scheme would be preferable to any alternative development including discount firms.
New artist’s impressions from Michael Laird Architects portray a modern sports centre with boutique-style outlets fronting on to Comely Bank Road.
Constructed above the units – and facing on to the existing pitches – will be a series of large clubhouse suites and function rooms along with tiers of seats.
A sizeable museum of rugby would also created on Portgower Place.
Much of the local community has been supportive of Accies’ plans to create new facilities but have voiced concerns about the size of the development and the retail provision.
Following the public consultation plans for the stadium will have to approved by the city council planning committee. If approved, the club hopes to complete the project by summer 2014.
Frank Spratt, executive chairman of Accies, said the development should be seen as a “community enterprise” for the local area.
He said: “Edinburgh Accies is as proud of being part of Stockbridge as we are of our role in the history of Scottish rugby.
“Our proposals will be one of the most ambitious proposals made by any community enterprise in Edinburgh.
“They will secure the future for EAFC in Stockbridge; creating jobs as well as enhancing Stockbridge as a tourist destination with a new museum of rugby. We are delighted to work with the local community to deliver the highest quality proposals possible for enhancing the area.”
The public event will be held tonight at LifeCare House in Cheyne Street, Stockbridge, from 7pm.