Exclusive as Hull City draw up grand plans to regenerate area around MKM Stadium with a multi-million pound development
Hull City are planning an ambitious £25m investment project that would breathe new life into the area surrounding the MKM Stadium by building Yorkshire’s leading sports village.
The multi-million-pound project is part of the long-term vision of owner Acun Ilicali, as he seeks to establish the Tigers as a force in the Premier League in the near future, while beginning the first steps to what he wants to be a lasting impact on the region. However, the plan also potentially calls for a controversial relocation of Hull Fair from its historic Walton Street site.
Hull City Council leader Michael Ross has welcomed the plans and confirmed talks over the future of the stadium site are underway. He told Hull Live that he believes a Hull City sports campus could be accommodated at the Walton Street site along with Hull Fair.
Central to City’s plans would be a brand new state-of-the-art training facility that would see the club’s first team and academy come under the same roof for the first time. There are also longer terms plans to increase the capacity as part of a wider refurbishment scheme of the 25,500-seater stadium which celebrated its 20th anniversary at the back end of last year.
The football club, working also under the guise as leaders of the Stadium Management Company (SMC) who operate the stadium on behalf of Hull City Council, have formed a working group which includes Hull FC owner Adam Pearson. Mr Pearson was the first to pose the idea of a Sports Village in west Hull when leading the original build of the stadium.
Improved relations between the football and rugby league club have allowed the new plans to move ahead at a greater speed. Hull Live understands early discussions having already taken place with Hull City Council on the feasibility of the Sports Village plan and the acquisition of land in West Park.
City have long since outgrown their current training ground at Cottingham and a potential sale of the site owned by the football club would raise valuable funds towards the overall cost of the project first revealed by Hull Live last year.
The ‘Sports Village’ as it has been dubbed among those involved in the project would take on a similar theme to the Etihad campus in Manchester, though City’s plans are naturally a scaled-down version of Manchester City’s and will be specific to the football club and to the needs of Hull FC, who are a significant component of this deal.
One key to the project being given the go-ahead is the club agreeing a long-term lease on the stadium which is owned by Hull City Council, and Hull Live understands the local authority are open to handing that over to Ilicali, providing assurances over the project’s viability, funding, and, crucially, long-term security are met. With a deal that includes a new lease for Hull FC also key, with the rugby league club’s current agreement only having five more years to run.
Another key sticking point is the land around the stadium, with the Walton Street car park central to potential plans. The football club want to build their new sports village on the site of the car park, but owing to the long-standing agreement with the Showman’s Guild as its site for historic Hull Fair, the footprint of the new development will likely have to be adjusted.
Speaking to Hull Live, council leader Mr Ross said: “As a city, we know just how important the stadium has been to the clubs, but also the local community, over the last 20 years. Alongside this, there is also a long history of Hull Fair, something that the community of Hull cherishes. The fair is part of the fabric of the city and will continue to be so for many years to come.
“The missing piece of the jigsaw is the wider redevelopment of the area, and so I welcome Hull City’s investment and ambitions. The Council is working closely with them on possible options to develop the MKM Stadium. We are all agreed that the future development, along with the success and sustainability of the stadium for both Hull City and Hull FC, are vital for the area. Critically, we also believe that this can be done in a way that guarantees the future of Hull Fair at Walton Street.”
Under the plans, a host of new pitches and academy buildings would be built to accommodate Hull City’s first team and academy, which are currently operating out of Millhouse Woods in Cottingham and Bishop Burton College.
It’s also hoped that a smaller stadium with a capacity of around 12,000 could be built within the grounds to provide a unique venue for the city to host national and local sporting events, while also providing a potential home for Hull FC should they wish to relocate as well as a venue for City’s Under-21s to play.
Further down the line, there’s also a desire to increase the overall capacity of the MKM stadium above 30,000 while plans to build a Hull City museum remain firmly on the agenda as part of the overall development project.
Discussions with the council are well underway and initial plans have been drawn up, with representatives from City and FC owner Pearson working closely together to get the project off the ground.