ODSAL STADIUM BRADFORD THE BIG PUSH

 Last Updated: 10/05/2020 08:01

Work has been going on for several weeks in securing at least discussion to discuss any potential for our sport to return to Odsal in perhaps 2021 alongside a possible return of the Bradford Bulls RLFC
 
Below is the chronology and progress!
 
Update! ODSAL – UPDATE 1!
As we have now been asked several times if there is any further information since speculation regarding Odsal and Stock Cars an Speedway hit media [ not via ourselves ] late January, behind the scenes we have spent several weeks putting together a costed and detailed proposal, recently completed - We have now forwarded our introductory letter to the RFL to ascertain interest - we did not feel confident in immediately rushing into this in February / March as we preferred to undertake a full cost / benefit analysis and operational requirements so we therefore have prepared IF there is interest in progressing this. We have speedway interest and, obviously we have operational experience of the stadium as an advantage but felt taking time to scope it out would be beneficial. This will be a huge project and capital wise.
And given we intend to be around a little longer! LOL
Therefore we share below our initial contact enquiry sent by e-mail and post - Obviously in these difficult times, we do not expect a speedy response but we will advise progress - We have to be prepared for 'no current interest' as an outcome also.
For attention of:
Mr Simon Johnson Chairman
Mr Ralph Rimmer CEO
Startrax Oval Motorsport Ltd,
Office: 12 Heyhouses Lane,
Lytham St Annes, Lancashire FY8 3RT
E-mail: stevenrees01@btinternet.com
Contact: 01253 713754 / 07952 050198
Mr Ralph Rimmer CEO
Rugby Football League
Red Hall
Red Hall Lane
Leeds
LS17 8NB
22nd April 2020
Subject : ODSAL STADIUM, Bradford
Dear Sir,
By means of introduction, myself and our company were promoters of ‘Stock Car Racing’ at Odsal Stadium, Bradford until the end of 1997 – However, since that period, we have repeatedly made contact to represent our company / sport with a view to commercially returning the sport to Bradford which, together with Rugby Football league and it’s long heritage, Stock Cars and Speedway have a huge legacy dating back to the 1950’s and earlier, hugely popular and a contributor to the stadiums commerciality.
It has hosted Stock Car & Speedway World Championships with audiences in latter years between 14000 and 20,000. Average events for speedway and stock cars up to It’s closure have been viable and provide the evidence of both sports popularity and contribution.
It should be noted that both sports, Mr Tony Mole as a speedway promoter and myself, had reached agreement with OK Bulls in the recent past to return after some lengthy miles of discussions only to be thwarted in those plans when that company ceased trading.
Talking to a colleague from Speedway several weeks ago and local press reports, I understand that the RFL is examining viability of Odsal for perhaps the return of the ‘Bulls’ RFLC to Odsal which would be a huge boost for it’s patrons and the City of Bradford. I am advised that the RFL are examining possible synergies of intensifying use of the stadium to ameliorate it’s viability. If that is the situation, let me advise you that my company – and BriSCA / ORCi very much wish to be considered and would welcome further discussions to see if there is shared interest in a proposal. I should add that I have two Speedway promotions elsewhere interested in returning the sport to the city also.
Whilst we all are currently enduring tragic and difficult times, I would welcome a conference call to at least progress and ascertain interest particularly as we have done some ‘scoping’ and detail to a potential return and operation.
We have scoped out:
i. Work required to re - instate the venue in terms of Speedway and Stock Car requirements with an investment required on our side of approximately £350,000
ii. Pitch protection – and methods, enhanced from previous operational methods employed – and more simplistic and cost effective after investment
iii. A draft budgeted operational illustration of costs
iv. Projected commercial benefits to RFL / Odsal Leaseholder.
Quite obviously, subject to interest from your side, within progressing the scoping of the project, there will be a need to understand the overall ambitions for Odsal stadium, cost infrastructure and requirements and certification for our sports however we do have engaged experienced HSE consultants, ORCi and SCB/ FIM governance.
We Anticipate both sports could contribute 25 + event dates a year and, I feel quite sure, will host major events once again.
I have at this point restricted my proposal to ‘bullet points’ whilst we ascertain interest however fully prepared to provide more rigorous scoping as and when required.
I would welcome an early discussion if our criteria is of interest to the RFL

Yours Sincerely,
Steve Rees
Director / Promoter Startrax Oval Motorsport Ltd
UPDATE II
Now don't get excited but within he hour I have a response
Now let's not get excited - however, the professionalism of the RFL is clear, I have received a prompt response - let's see where an how this develops and hopefully there will be a time we can all come together! Our response has been from the RFL COO - As you would expect, I have responded!
Good afternoon Steve,
Thanks for your email, I read it with great interest, thank you. 
I would look forward to discussing it with you, do you have abit of time next week to discuss?
I can obviously do a call or I can set up a Teams meeting if that works for you, just let me know. 
 
Update ODSAL 2
Firstly, and during these difficult times, would like to thank the RFL for the promptness in response and facilitating a discussion within just 6 days of initial contact.
I can report that we have had an extremely informative one hour discussion with some detail from both sides and equally both sides have far more knowledge of each others requirements.
It was an extremely useful 'first step' in terms of scoping where this may go. It must be understood that there is a long way to go, my next step will be now supplying, in a timely manner, a more detailed business plan which then may be evaluated. There are complex issues and discussions, contrary to the views of fans - stadiums the size of Odsal face huge challenges in terms to infrastructure operational costs - this is not a venue that can run dozens of meetings with 700'ish crowds - everyone has to justify it's existence as it must overall provide the revenue stream as a participant sport to the whole eco - structure cost wise.
At this point and moving forward, we will be supplying more detailed business plans for further evaluation.
I have kept you informed of what has been done and, now today, where we are in terms of preliminary contact. There remains considerable work to do which if this develops further will be quite detailed. Whilst this progresses we hope you will understand that these have to be progressed with 'confidentiality' so will be unable to provide further updates until we reach any conclusion upon which time we will be delighted then to announce. This will be a lengthy evaluation requiring many questions and answers. In the end of this process it may well be a position that both sides cannot square the circle, please understand that - also please appreciate the need now for further discussion to be so to speak, behind closed doors without 'speculation'.
I will end as I started, thanking the RFL for their time allocation to listen to our sport and the enthusiasm for returning to Odsal and extending that courtesy.
 
 
 
ODSAL UPDATE  3 – Bringing us ‘up to date’ w/c 4th May 2020!

This will be 'for now' our Final update. We met our deadline and have this afternoon submitted and more detailed outline discussion document for evaluation. This, hopefully may progress to drill down either further into the economics, viability and operational synergy or it may well not progress at all and in case of the latter that would be the end of the road.I have spoken with a couple of speedway promoters and this afternoon was delighted to speak with Allan Ham the last promoter at Odsal of the Dukes and asked if he would kindly assist us if this progresses with advice. It was good to chat as we had not seen him for 3/4 years when we accidentally bumped into each other in Tenerife. His passion is undimmed, perhaps in a different capacity to see our sports return to Odsal.
Whilst undertaking research I was fascinated in finding this chronology of events on Wikipedia - and even one fact in there about the Pit bend hospitality boxes is 'fake news' - nevertheless it is interesting for afficiandos to read.
We have now done all we can and the RFL have a full picture for them to consider whether there is a synergy to move forward. We will only update when there is something to say - and discussions that may progress will, you will hopefully understand be confidential to see IF we can square this circle.
Enjoy the WIKIPEDIA content - thank you to the RFL for at least acknowledgement and time to at least listen - NOW all of you ideally need to get behind this and illustrate your support whether a Bulls Fan - OR MOTORSPORT and show your support by commenting and your memories
Thank you
WIKIPEDIA
1933-1935: Construction and opening
Formed in 1907, the Bradford Northern club had played at a number of venues including the Greenfield Athletic Ground in Dudley Hill and Bowling Old Lane Cricket Club's ground in Birch Lane. By the early 1920s, however, Birch Lane's limitations were clear and Northern began to seek another home. Precarious finances prevented the club being able to take up an offer to develop land off Rooley Lane or to upgrade and move back to Greenfield, but in 1933, Bradford City Council gave them the opportunity to transform land at Odsal Top into their home ground. On 20 June 1933 the club therefore signed a ten-year deal on the site, which was to become the biggest stadium in England outside Wembley.] 
The site was a former quarry which was then being used as a landfill tip. Ernest Call M.B.E., the Director of Cleansing for Bradford City Council devised a system of controlled tipping that saw 140,000 cart loads of household waste deposited to form the characteristic banking at Odsal. The club were to be responsible for boundary fencing, dressing rooms and seated accommodation. 
To be able to turf the pitch, and other areas, a turf fund was put into place which raised a total of £900 to cover the work. A stand was erected at the cost of £2,000, which was paid for by the Rugby Football League. It held 1,500 on a mixture of benches and tip-up seats. 
The ground was officially opened by Sir Joseph Taylor, President of Huddersfield on 1 September 1934. His club went on to beat the hosts 31–16, Australian winger Ray Markham scoring four tries in front of an estimated 20,000.[6] The clubhouse and dressing rooms were officially opened before a match against Hull F.C. on 2 February 1935. Contemporary pictures show that as late as August 1935 the banking on the Rooley Avenue side was still being created. 
1940-1979: Speedway and Rugby League internationals
In 1945, speedway began in Bradford with the Odsal Boomerangs. In the post-Second World War years, speedway proved extremely popular with crowds of over 20,000 regularly attending meetings at Odsal, with the 1946 average for the first year of the National League after the war. The highest speedway attendance during this period came on 5 July 1947 when 47,050 fans saw England defeat Australia 65-43 in a Test match. This remains the largest-ever speedway crowd for Odsal Stadium. 
During the Second World War, the lower floor of the clubhouse was also used as an Air Raid Precautions centre, and one of the dressing rooms was the map room. On 20 December 1947, the largest ever attendance for an international test at Odsal was set when 42,685 saw England defeat New Zealand 25–9. The first floodlit rugby match in the North of England was held at Odsal in 1951. In September 1951, Council Engineer Ernest Wardley drew up a plan for a 92,000 capacity 'European' style stadium, at a cost of £250,000. Eventually £50,000 was spent on terracing the Rooley Avenue end in 1964, before the Wardley plan was officially dropped the following year. 
After a disastrous 1960 season, the Panthers (previously the Odsal Boomerangs) left Odsal and in 1961 moved across town to the Greenfield Stadium, better known for greyhound racing. After the Panthers folded in 1962, Motorcycle Speedway would not return to Bradford for another 10 years. 
Speedway returned to Odsal when promoters Les Whaley, Mike Parker and Bill Bridgett moved the British League Division Two side Nelson Admirals across the Pennines for the final eleven league meetings of the 1970 season and went on to adopt Bradford Northern as their name and red, black and amber as their colours. Northern would finish second in Division 2 in 1971, but from there results and attendances steadily declined and the team folded after 1973. 
The second test of the 1978 Ashes series was played at Odsal, with Great Britain defeating Australia before a crowd of 26,761. The Lions team that day featured what was called a "Dad's Army" front row with Jim Mills, Tony Fisher and Brian Lockwood all being over the age of 30. 
1980-1990s: Bradford City and the return of Speedway
The ground's clubhouse had to be refurbished when it was condemned in the mid-1980s. The social facilities were also upgraded at the same time. 
Speedway returned to Odsal in 1985 after a ten-year absence when it was selected by the FIM to host the 1985 World Final. 
Following the Valley Parade fire disaster of 1985, Bradford City played a handful of games at Leeds Road and Elland Road whilst the future of Valley Parade was decided. On 23 September 1985, a Football League delegation visited Odsal to view the stadium to pass it fit to host City's home games. Segregation fences were erected on the old Main Stand side and 1,000 uncovered seats were bolted onto the terracing – it was planned to install 7,000 in the future. Meanwhile, a further £1 million was spent to conform with new safety standards – bringing the total spent on Odsal to £3.5 million. New boundary walls, turnstiles, exit gates, a bus layby in Rooley Avenue and access road were added. Odsal played host to Bradford City's Division Two home games until December 1986. Odsal Stadium also held a modern-day attendance record for almost six years. 
Like most British stadia, Odsal had its capacity substantially reduced by the safety measures introduced in the 1990s following the Hillsborough disaster and the findings of the Taylor Report. 
2000-present: Redevelopments
At the dawn of the Super League era in 1996, Bradford Bulls wanted to attract new sponsors but had poor and outdated hospitality suites. In 2000 they announced plans to build hospitality suites at the South End of the stadium which would mean building on the track around the pitch, effectively ending speedway's association with Bradford. Construction started in 2001 and was completed in 2002 with Bradford Bulls playing two seasons at Valley Parade
 
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