Barr to construct Saints stadium

Michael Hunt

Barr Construction has been appointed to build a new stadium and Tesco supermarket in St Helens.

Development partner Langtree, St Helens Council, the North West Development Agency and Saints Rugby League Club have spent the last three years putting in place a complex legal and financial foundation which will see Saints leave its Knowsley Road's GPW Recruitment Stadium to an 18,000 capacity stadium on the former United Glass site in Peasley Cross, St Helens.

The stadium is the centrepiece of the regeneration of the 46-acre site that also includes a 140,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store, which will form part of the stadium construction contract, new public realm and new pedestrian links into St Helens town centre.

St Helens Council started work to create a highway infrastructure to form a new entrance to the site in March by constructing a new roundabout and associated works.

A 3,000 sq ft community facility, managed by St Helens Council's youth services, will be housed within the stadium and be used by young people for recreational activities. The specific uses of the new facility will be outlined in the council's forthcoming youth strategy report.

The stadium will also be home to a range of corporate hospitality facilities, meeting rooms and conference space for up to 1,600 delegates for match day hospitality which will provide new revenue-generating streams for the club.

Four companies were vying to secure the tender to construct a stadium for the rugby league club.

John Downes, Langtree managing director, said: "The letting of the contract is the final part of the process and people will now see construction activity begin on site. With the stadium at its centre this development will deliver the wholesale regeneration of this brownfield site.

"Following our acquisition of the site over 10 years ago and close liaison between all partners through a detailed planning and tender process, it is very satisfying to see the project finally become a reality."

Marie Rimmer, leader of St Helens Council, added: "The rugby club first came to the Council in 1998 to ask us to work with them to deliver a state of the art stadium. Since then we have been working closely with the club and Langtree to bring this dream to fruition. This announcement is tremendous news. Finally we will be able to see the stadium take shape offering fitting facilities for our world class club. It is a proud moment for the club and the Council and a historic landmark in the history of the borough."

Eamonn McManus, Saints chairman, said: "This is an incredibly proud day for me as chairman of this great club. Our supporters will now see their club's new home rise out of this site. This stadium is fitting for a club of the tradition of Saints but it also signals a new era for us and demonstrates that we are a forward looking club with our eyes fixed on the next generation of great Saints supporters and players.

"I would urge the fans and the town to get fully behind the club and its team in the season ahead as it is the most important year in our history and will lay the foundation for our future."

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, said: "The NWDA has been involved with this project for a number of years, injecting funding into land remediation works in 2008. This initial investment was part of a process that has enabled work to start on site today. The development will not only provide an excellent sporting venue, it will deliver real benefits such as amenities and services for the local community, while boosting jobs and increasing economic wealth."

In the coming months Saints will hold a series of fans' forums and presentations to its sponsors and fans on the new stadium.

An exhibition of the stadium plans will be on view from 4pm to 7.30pm on Monday 19 July and from 12pm to 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 July in the Touchlines Club at the GPW Recruitment Stadium.

The exhibition will then remain open for a fortnight, 12pm to 7.30pm weekdays, and will be in the Church Square Shopping Centre on Saturday 24 July from 12pm to 4pm.

Construction will now begin on the site with the stadium expected to be operational for Saints use at the end of the next Super League season.

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Nice new stadium, cant wait to be there on a match day. Shame that this year we have had to play at Widnes (arch rivals at one time) and that attendances have fallen so low. Not the greatest organisation and management Mr M!

By Whitley bay saintsfan