Meadowbank cash boost aims for stadium revival

Hurdler Heather Campbell trains at Meadowbank, which is now a step closer to a multi-million revamp. Picture: Neil Hanna
Hurdler Heather Campbell trains at Meadowbank, which is now a step closer to a multi-million revamp. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A MULTI-MILLION pound grant from Sportscotland is set to trigger the investment needed to restore Meadowbank Stadium to its “glory days”.

The run-down venue – built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games – has been at the centre of redevelopment plans for years but a lack of cash has previously stalled proposals.

Now the pledge from the national sports body is expected to attract funding from other sources to kick-start a major revamp of the stadium.

Sports convener Councillor Richard Lewis said the Sportscotland boost was “fantastic news” and said architectural designs would be drawn up.

The money comes from a £20 million pot for improving sporting facilities across the country. The precise amount Edinburgh will receive has yet to be finalised but a Sportscotland spokesman said: “A multi-million pound figure will go towards redevelopment of Meadowbank.”

The last round of similar funding windfalls saw £45m of grants draw in a further £300m of investment for projects including Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool, Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and Aberdeen sports village.

The Sportscotland spokesman said: “We would expect to lever in a similar proportionate amount from this round of funding.

“Meadowbank has been an iconic sporting venue for many years and has served the people of Edinburgh very well.

“We’re working with the council to look at the options to bring it back to its glory days.”

The council last year chose as its preferred option a £35m scheme for Meadowbank which would involve razing the existing stadium to the ground and building two new sports halls, a gymnastics hall, a fitness studio and an indoor, multi-lane athletics straight, as well as a 400m outdoor running track.

It was proposed to raise some of the money needed by selling land to the east of the site for between £10m and £16.7m.

Councillor Lewis said a feasibility study, including a detailed business plan and funding strategy for the revamp, was under way. He added: “We are about to start the next phase of work to redevelop the venue, which will include detailed architectural drawings and designs, coupled with further community and sporting consultation.”

Lothian Green MSP and former athlete Alison Johnstone, who coaches at Meadowbank every week, said the venue was “very much in need of investment”.

She said: “Meadowbank is an example of what happens when you don’t invest in facilities and maintain them properly. The changing rooms have been improved, but the track is desperately needing attention.

“Meadowbank is used by everyone from the casual once-in-a-while user to elite athletes like Lynsey Sharp and it’s important everyone is consulted to make sure the money is spent as well as possible.”