Thursday, 19 March 2009

The right way to build a stadium

After two years travelling to Anfield and Old Trafford, the relegation of the mighty Royals to the Championship has meant my trips this season have been to more mundane venues, such as Tuesday night's match at the new Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster.

Three points means our quest for automatic promotion is back on track. Bizzarely, Sir Steve Coppell has signed Dave Kitson and Glen Little on loan from the clubs to which we sold them last summer. And it was the Ginger Ninja who struck a glorious winner on Tuesday.

But for me, one of the most interesting aspects of the trip was my first chance to see the new stadium, opened in 2007. Especially with Darlington FC going into administration, and no-one seemingly interested in buying the club, seeing how much better they've done things in Donny really brought home the lunacy of George Reynold's white elephant of a stadium in Darlington.
The Keepmoat Stadium was built by Doncaster Council. It forms part of a sports complex with indoor and outdoor facilities, including an excellent athletics stadium. Rovers rent the use of the stadium from the Council. They share it with the local Rugby League Club and Doncaster Belles, the ladies' football team. The stadium is also used for community events and concerts. It is a manageable size, just right for a town like Doncaster.

Judging by all the signs and posters about the local community which appear around the stadium, the Council are clearly proud of their investment and have made the complex into a real community asset. In contrast, Darlington FC is stuck with a ludicrously over-sized and expensive to run stadium in which the wider community has no role.

Tellingly, no statement has been made by the Council about the club going into administration. A belated letter from the Leader to a resident about this matter is rather lukewarm in support for the club. All very different from Doncaster.

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