Proposals for a 15,000-seat new stadium for Tranmere Rovers Football Club could receive crucial support from Wirral Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
The “Sports City” project, a plan for land at the former Bidston Dock that would have new ground as its mainstay, could receive £ 100,000 from both authorities. The total project cost is estimated to be £ 100 million, with the Sports City complex possibly including a digital golf course and food and retail outlets, as well as the 15,000-capacity stadium the club would have the capacity to renovate to enable 25,000. fans to fit inside.
Meeting of Wirral Council’s The Committee on Economy, Regeneration and Housing, on 13 June, is due to decide whether to accept a £ 100,000 grant from the Liverpool City Joint Authority (LCRCA) for a feasibility study to see if the project works or not. If the project goes ahead, the club’s current Prenton Park ground would be provided for housing.
Articles published ahead of next week’s meeting show that Wirral Council believes the project will be a “major catalyst to the Wirral Waters program,” a plan for up to 13,000 homes on the birkenhead docklands over the next 25 years. The document added: “If the project could continue, it would not only help protect the future of Tranmere Rovers FC as an important “community asset” but also to contribute to enhanced health and leisure provision as well as increased employment and long-term economic growth. ”
As for the football club, the advisory paper added: “Over the last few years TRFC [Tranmere Rovers Football Club] established a reputation as a model for a professional football club. This has seen a significant investment in its active base including new training facilities at the Solar Campus in Leasowe.
“In order to reach a self-sustaining Championship club, TRFC believes it is necessary to replace its aging stadium at Prenton Park and relocate to a modern facility.” As well as the stadium, which will include a built-in hotel and conference / event facilities, the Sports City venue could also host a digital golf course, food and retail stores and a sports science facility.
The council said this was not the limit of possible attractions at the site as the list it provided was “not exhaustive”. Currently, Peel Land and Development owns the land and upholds the project principle, but only wants to be involved in the plan as the landowner and does not want to participate in developing the project itself.
As for the money, this project was initially discussed with the LCRCA two years ago. Wirral Council said at the time the plan was mainly focused on the new stadium, but it had not progressed due to the pandemic.
The new plan is larger in scale and includes other things besides the football field. Now, the LCRCA has indicated its support for the feasibility study and has agreed in principle to fund £ 100,000 out of the £ 200,000 this will cost.
Wirral Council will fund the other £ 100,000 from its capital funding, meaning the money does not compete with ongoing services such as leisure centers or adult social care resources. The document said Tranmere Rovers could not contribute to the cost at present due to costs caused by covid recovery, but agreed to fund £ 50,000 from the cost of the council as and when the project will continue, either in cash or in kind.
This feasibility study is completed by December and would look at things like the business case and how quickly the project could be delivered. As for the total project, which is estimated to cost around £ 100 million, the document reads: and regeneration grants.
“The financial sources will be considered further in the feasibility study.” Wirral Council itself is in a difficult financial position, having been scheduled in two government reports last November and to produce a budget with £ 20 million in cuts in February.
In this regard, the document added: “Therefore, the council will not make any funding to progress the project unless the result of the feasibility study demonstrates the potential for a cash return on investment for the council.
“This includes the financing of any equity loan associated with the project. This will be considered part of the full business case if the recommendation of the feasibility study is to progress.”
Tranmere Rovers FC were contacted for comment.