Developers bankrolled by two companies based in the US and London want to construct a host of new facilities on land beside Murrayfield Stadium – at a cost of more than £500 million. But ice rink bosses said there was “no deal with anybody on the table”, and told the Evening News: “We don’t see ourselves going anywhere in the near future.”
And the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) own much of the land in question, meaning work on site could not go ahead without their approval.
Rugby chiefs are currently advancing their own plans to build a hotel on land adjacent to Murrayfield Stadium’s main entrance off Roseburn Street, diagonally opposite the tram stop.
Early-stage blueprints for the new hotel and flats at the ice rink were lodged with the council this week by developer Murrayfield 2020.
The company is fronted by Edinburgh solicitor David Johnson and Rick Finc Associates, with an unnamed Florida-based firm, London-based business and “reputable house builder” also said to be on board.
Its plans – which would border the Water of Leith – include a luxury hotel, serviced apartments and flats, as well as a care home and the “relocation and improvement” of the nearby doctors surgery.
Developers also promise to either refurbish or demolish the ice rink – replacing it with a world-class facility nearby or elsewhere in the city.
A Murrayfield 2020 spokesman said: “The development will be an exemplar of urban design and create a world-class destination bringing economic, social and environmental benefits to the Capital.
“Flooding of Murrayfield in 2003 and the subsequent public inquiry, together with the property crash, stopped previous redevelopment plans but the company believes that the climate is right for new investment with a range of development partners.
“With flood prevention measures now almost complete, the way is clear to deliver what residents and fans can enjoy as a huge improvement to facilities and a sympathetic improvement of use on this long neglected but highly accessible site.”
It is understood much of the land Murrayfield 2020 want to build on is owned by the SRU, while the ice rink and curling club own the plots their buildings stand on.
Miller Developments also has an option on the SRU land, and would need to be consulted before any construction went ahead.
Murrayfield 2020 said the SRU had “to date declined to be involved in a wider opportunity to masterplan a development at Murrayfield, which is believed to be driven by its existing contractual arrangements with Miller Developments”.
But a spokesman added: “However, the SRU has already relocated Edinburgh Rugby and given notice to quit to Murrayfield Wanderers RFC, thus opening the way for redevelopment of some rear pitches and creating the opportunity for a capital receipt in the future.
“In addition [the] SRU wishes to progress with its own hotel development adjacent to the tram stop.
“As a consequence, Murrayfield 2020 has decided to progress immediately with a more limited development proposal, particularly as the curling rink badly needs an upgrade to European standards.
“Fans of the ice rink, especially the ice hockey fans, should be looking forward to a new or refurbished facility that meets modern standards.”
Developers said more details would be revealed at a public consultation set to be held later this year. They aim to submit a full planning application in the spring.
But the proposals have caused widespread confusion among those currently using the land.
Richard Stirling, managing director of the ice rink, insisted there was “no deal with anybody on the table”.
He said: “I think someone’s got some highfalutin ideas about what they can do with the site here, and has submitted a plan.
“In the past, there’s been all kinds of rumours about plans for new-builds and a new ice rink and all the rest of it. But all these things never came to fruition.”
He said the directors of the ice rink would not agree to sell it without another facility being in place elsewhere in the city.
He added: “Never say never, but until somebody comes and speaks and signs a piece of paper, there’s nothing there. I think there’s maybe a double bluff here.”
Curling club manager Douglas Baxter said he did not understand how the plans could “progress realistically” due to the three landowners involved.
He added: “I don’t know exactly what their plans are but we are having a board meeting tonight.
“However, we don’t see ourselves going anywhere in the near future, whatever plans Murrayfield 2020 has.”
Scott Neil, co-owner of ice hockey team Edinburgh Capitals, was also in the dark.
He said: “Whilst there have been a few attempts to get the site developed in the past, I don’t think as far as I know that there’s anything imminent. It’s completely out of the blue.”
But he expressed support for the idea of a new ice rink – something the club has been considering for some time.
He added: “I’ve grown up playing in this building. I love the old building. But I don’t think a refurbishment would be a step forward.
“In the longer term, Edinburgh needs a new facility that’s fit for modern-day sports entertainment. But I’ve got no real conception of what’s being proposed here.”
It is understood Murrayfield 2020 is seeking talks with the city council within the next three weeks regarding potentially relocating the ice rink.
A spokesman for the SRU said: “We have received correspondence from Murrayfield 2020 Ltd and will review any subsequent updates on their proposals when they are released.”