A BID to return speedway to Edinburgh and a permanent home for the Edinburgh Rugby team are being considered as part of plans for a major new sporting arena at Ingliston, the Evening News can reveal.
It is hoped that part of Royal Highland Showground site can be set aside for a permanent sports facility in order to encourage more use of the site throughout the year.
As well as a home for Edinburgh Rugby and the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway club, other options that could be included in the new arena include other motorsports and cycling.
But the site is unlikely to provide an option for Hearts bosses, who are currently assessing available sites for a new “community stadium”.
Stephen Hutt, chief executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, said: “The Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston is at the start of a development plan passed by the council in April of last year, so there’s a huge number of things we are considering.
“We have 300 acres of ground, with 110 covering the showground, so we can do anything from fast cars, which we have on a limited basis at the moment, and cycling through to major sporting occasions.”
He confirmed that the Edinburgh Monarchs, who are currently based at Armadale Stadium but only have a one-year deal there, had made an approach which was being considered.
He said that the site could be “perfect” for an organisation like Edinburgh Rugby, who are currently based at Murrayfield but want to move to a smaller home where their regular crowd could create a better atmosphere.
However, Mr Hutt appears to have ruled out the site being a possible location of any new Hearts stadium.
He said: “You look at the amount of investment needed for that, and we have to start from scratch, so maybe it is too much of a hurdle at this stage.
“But Edinburgh Rugby have different requirements, a lower capacity and a need to draw fans from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, so it is a perfect location for that.”
It is not the first time the Monarchs have been linked with a move back to Edinburgh since the club departed their former Powderhall home.
Club chairman Alex Harkess said: “I approached the Ingliston authorities myself to see what the future was and we are talking to them. They have, and this always seems to be the case, a redevelopment strategy in the pipeline for their site.
“One never knows what this strategy is, and they are currently working out at the moment whether Edinburgh speedway will be part of this redevelopment plan. It’s fair to say we have a correspondence going and I can say no more than that.”
A 20-year masterplan for a £30 million revamp of Ingliston that would turn it into a “world-class exhibition and event venue” was approved by council planners last year.
A new exhibition hall, an agricultural centre of excellence and new main pavilion overlooking the showground arena are among the highlights in the vision, although full details of some of the individual elements have still to be revealed.