FOOTBALL fans had a disappointing weekend with Gainsborough Trinity losing out on promotion, but their excitement reached a peak last week as the club’s new stadium plans were revealed.
And support from the public was overwhelming with more than 200 people packing out the Sands Venue to cast an eye over the designs.
Club chairman Peter Swann revealed his plans for a new 4,000 capacity stadium, which are finally ready to be submitted.
He was applauded for reinforcing his investment in the club and the town in general, as he said he hoped to have the ground built by July 2013.
“We are a good club which has been going a long time but the only way we can ensure our heritage continues is to move,” said Mr Swann.
“We have seen what our success this season has done for the town, it is amazing to see the place buzzing.”
The new stadium would be built on the former Castle Hills school site with the entrance off the Little Belt Road.
The Blue Square Bet North club has been at its current Northolme ground since 1873 but does not own it.
Mr Swann explained the business model behind the new stadium would enable the ground to pay for itself.
“With a 3G floodlit all-weather training pitch open seven days a week, function rooms, catering facilities, a physiotherapy suite and a creche, the club’s income stream will be more sustainable,” said Mr Swann.
“One day anything could happen, and if I haven’t got the money to put into the club I don’t want to see it go down.”
“That’s why I’m looking at what other income we can bring in, and I think this business plan will ensure the future of Gainsborough Trinity.”
One fan, whose speech was met with rapturous applause from the crowd, thanked Mr Swann for ‘not giving up on Gainsborough’.
“Gainsborough has not seen a meeting like this for probably close to 50 years, and during those 50 years it has lost a lot of what it used to have,” he said.
“Many businesses have upped and left, but you have come back on your own and I think you should be congratulated.”
Mr Swann said: “This is for the fans. And that’s why I’m here showing you these plans so you can have your say before we put the application in.”
A show of hands proved just how much support there was in the room for Trinity to push forward.
As well as asking for community input during the planning process, Mr Swann stressed that the new stadium would be a community facility for 5-a-side teams, older players, schools and families.
“We need to invest in the young generation of players coming up through the ranks,” said Mr Swann.
“So many clubs are getting rid of their kids’ sides but I want to focus on nurturing our own homegrown talent.”
“We’ll bring families to this new facility and make it a real community hub where parents can have a bite to eat in nice surroundings while they watch their kids practice.”
“There will also be 240 parking spaces on the site, which is 240 more than we have at the Northolme.”
But some residents said they were worried about fans parking on residential streets.
“We live there and we also know how dangerous the Belt Road is,” said one woman.
Mr Swann said speed surveys had been done and the highways department was happy with the location.
“Anything we can possibly do to keep traffic off the roads will be done,” he said.
He also emphasised that the number of fans coming to matches was likely to be 800 - 1200 per week.
The stadium will have seating for 800 - 1,000, with the capacity to expand to 2,000.
“My focus is on getting 800 people through the gate each week because by doing that the club will survive. But we can do more, as we have seen.”
After the meeting supporters told the Standard they were impressed with the proposals.
“I think this needs to happen. The plans look good.” said Graham Woodhead, of Pingle Close.“Look at the buzz there has been around town with Trinity doing well.”
Lifelong supporter Brian Stanahm, of Nelson Street, said it was a ‘realistic step forward’.
“The club needs to be flexible and if the town is going to change and grow in size, the club needs to change with it.”