Exeter given permission to redevelop Sandy Park
October 30, 2012
Sandy Park's capacity is set to expand up to 20,600 seats © Getty Images
The Exeter Chiefs have confirmed that local councillors have given plans to redevelop their Sandy Park home the green light.
Over the next five years the Chiefs plan to expand the capacity of their ground from the current figure of 10,744 to 20,600. It is anticipated that the redevelopment will cost in the region of £24million with three new grandstands and a 1,000-seater auditorium some of the additions to the current set-up.
"I'm really pleased with Monday's outcome because it has been a long journey with Sandy Park," Exeter Chiefs CEO Tony Rowe said. "We first talked to the City Council some 10, 11 years ago and we got our original planning permission back in 2004. Since then we have worked closely with the council and various other bodies, particularly this latest six to nine months, to achieve this latest planning consent.
"This decision now means we can get on and develop Sandy Park as we wish over these next five to seven years."
With the club looking to raise finance for the scheme through the private sector, Rowe envisages the plans will help to transform the club not only into a major force within the English game, but also that of the European game in the long term.
"We hope over the next two or three years to build our average match-day attendance up to something like 10,000 a game - at the moment we are at 8,500 - and then look to develop ourselves even further as one of the top clubs in Europe, where we would hope to attract crowds of between 15,000 and 20,000."
Central to their redevelopment plans is the team and Rowe wants the side to continue making a name for themselves in the Aviva Premiership which will probably lead to an increase in sponsorship and off-field attention.
"We can't live just off 20 days of rugby a year," Rowe said. "The other 340-odd days Sandy Park is the major conferencing and banqueting facility in this part of the country. With the works we have planned, the idea is to develop Sandy Park into an even greater facility, attracting lots of money which in turn will help finance the rugby on the pitch.
"To succeed, it's all about creating the wealth so that Rob [Baxter] can put a decent team out. The first phase of the West Grandstand, we believe, will add an extra £500,000 on the bottom line and that will go straight into the playing budget."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"I think in a couple of seasons London Irish can be a genuine force and contenders for the Premiership." Tom Hamilton talks to Brian Smith
"I hate this talk of survival, we are going there to compete." Tom Hamilton talks to London Welsh's Justin Burnell and Matt Corker
The latest Week in Pictures takes in Madagascar, Nick Cummins and all the latest photographs from Super Rugby
Tom Hamilton looks at the implications of Ulster's state of upheaval on the Ireland team