Truthfal’s Remi Brand explores the New Zealand influences on the proposed Stadium for Cornwall
The Stadium for Cornwall movement is getting a steer in the right direction by a force from the other side of the world. Colin Groves, Cornish-born and Chair of Waikato Rugby in New Zealand, has come to help the hopes of development become a reality by following the example he and his team, The Waikato Chiefs, made in their region.
Stadium for Cornwall, or Sportva Kernow, is a partnership between the Cornish Pirates, Truro City Football Club and Truro and Penwith College that aims to create a sporting arena for Cornwall, which is planned to hold a 6,000-people capacity.
Members of Falmouth Rugby Club with Colin Groves and former England cricketer Jack Richards to discuss the development and benefits of the prospective Cornish stadium, and how using the example of Waikato Stadium could potentially revitalise enthusiasm for sport in Cornwall.
“We feel this stadium will be more than a pitch and floodlights for two clubs. We want to create a community foundation, to improve the health of the Cornish and pick up more Cornish talent; it’s a big part for the development of Cornish talent.”
Waikato and Cornwall have much in common; similar populations (425,000 population of Waikato compared to Cornwall’s 549,400 population), similar land mass and prior to the Stadium’s completion, a decline in enthusiasm towards sport and no real vicinity to harbour prospective talent.
Waikato Stadium, which opened for use in 2002 with a 25,800 capacity, has served as the home of The Chiefs since it was built. Before opening there was a lack of inclusion in sport between all the provinces, as well as a lack of suitable facilities to compete with the level of professionalism seen in the rest of the World.
This was due to 5 province teams being turned to super-franchises in the 1996 Super Rugby competition: The Blues, The Chiefs, The Hurricanes, The Crusaders and The Highlanders, with the other 23 provinces being almost ignored for funding.
To surpass this, what-was-then Waikato Chiefs sold off shares in their team, including the stadium, to the smaller provinces and businesses. This allowed not only created a more inclusive environment for the surrounding areas but also provided greater funding from a varied number of owners.
Since then it has benefitted from hosting a wide range of events such as men’s and women’s international rugby, the Super Rugby competition, the Mitre 10 Cup rugby, ICC Cricket World Cup and the FIFA U20’s World Cup. It offers rugby training for youth and adults alike with indoor and outdoor facilities, as well as making a multitude of jobs available in food, entertainment, training and customer service at the stadium.
The same cannot be said of Cornwall as of present. Last December it was announced that Cornwall’s most professional football team, Truro City, had been lost their lease on their ground at Treyew Road, leading to a further decline in Cornwall’s sporting professionalism.
“There’s nothing there for us, nothing there at all for us to achieve something great,” said Jack Richards, representing the Cornish Pirates Rugby Team. “Truro College [football] team are brilliant, our boys have gone up to Exeter; fantastic, but wouldn’t it be great later if they came up to us? That’s going to be the vision.”
“It must be for Cornwall, and have access for ALL of Cornwall,” said Mr Richards. “We feel this stadium will be more than a pitch and floodlights for two clubs. We want to create a community foundation, to improve the health of the Cornish and pick up more Cornish talent; it’s a big part for the development of Cornish talent.”
Although an estimated £14-24 million would be spent on building the facility, the stadium is expected to produce a profit estimated between £8-10million per annum. Despite this, nothing is certain and the fate of construction lies in the hands of Cornwall Council who have two voting meetings, one on Wednesday 28th March between the council’s cabinet members and another on Tuesday 17th April with the all councillors, needing a total of 64 votes to allow construction to begin.
NZ photos Curtesy Colin Groves, Waikato