A Stadium of the North or a slow death for City?
by Pete Kilbane
This whole Monks Cross II debate gives us a great opportunity. I don’t care much for shopping and I’m not a York City fan. In fact I don’t follow football at all – I’m an Evertonian. But I am a fan of York the City. And I’m alarmed at what’s happening and the way that we, the people of York and especially the City fans, are being sold short by a lack of vision amongst our political leaders.
The plan for the new stadium is for losers. The capacity of 6,000 says ‘We’re never going to get out of the lower leagues’. The location says ‘No-one really wants to come here – unless they’re shopping’. The ‘all seating’ says to the fans ‘Sit down and shut up.’ One of the joys of Bootham Crescent is that you can still stand up to watch the game. I know that sounds mad to many people but to footie fans it’s important. It’s a cultural thing, and we’re about to lose it.
With the relocation of the club York will also lose the last temple of mass working class culture in the city. The club is to be shipped off to its graveyard on the edge of town, where it will spend its last days as York Suburb FC. It’s like an exercise in class cleansing in the ongoing Disneyfication of our town. Well do you know what, this City is for life, not just Residents First weekend. York is for everyone – including football fans and ordinary working people. We should celebrate the real life of our City, embrace our own culture, not shunt it out of town. York City’s need to find a new home could help us do just that.
Here’s my proposal. No small club can really afford its own ground. So let’s build a multi-purpose stadium next to the train station and turn that waste land into the venue of the North. Let’s build a stadium that could host Take That concerts and big sports events. Let’s build it with a hotel so that people who come to see the U2 gig can stay on for the weekend, maybe do a bit of shopping in the new John Lewis next door – Destination York. And of course our sports clubs would be the long term tenants in the centre of the town – truly York City.
There are even bigger gains to be had. It’s next to the train station. So we could make it the greenest Stadium in the land. Access by train with new park and rail sites outside the ring road. We could put them near Poppleton and Copmanthorpe. Maybe even a station at Strensall. And these could be used year round for folk to access the Rail Museum, the station and the City. The ‘teardrop’ could develop with the Stadium it’s proud beating heart.
‘What about the cost?’, you cry. And so you should. But here’s the reality. Where there is the political will there is the way. York City FC would have to be underwritten during the transition. But this would be a small part of a multi-million pound project. Don’t forget two of the world’s richest companies make a tidy profit out of our town and we could knock hard on their doors. With the Council behind it we could find the developers and the promoters for the stadium and the money for the infrastructure. It would be hard and it would take time but we could do it. Does Labour want to do something for the labourers and citizens of York? We have the vision and the opportunity to do something glorious. Do we have the political will to develop the Stadium of the North?