COVENTRY City Football Club are seeking to build a new stadium at the University of Warwick – potentially within five years.
The Observer understands the early proposal is for a modular stadium costing up to £30million.
It would have an estimated 18,000 or 20,000 capacity which could potentially rise above 35,000 seats if required.
The new ground earmarked for university-owned agricultural land by its main campus would finally enable the club and team to access 24/7 commercial revenues from stadium activities, on matchdays and non-matchdays.
It is hoped much of the funding would come from ‘enabling development’ such as retail or student accommodation.
The stadium would be built on the Warwickshire side of the county and city border which the university straddles.
The planning authority would therefore by Warwick District Council, rather than Coventry.
The city council has been in dispute with the newly promoted Championship club’s owners Sisu since 2012. In 2014, the council decided to sell a secretive 250-year leasehold of the Ricoh Arena to the then London Wasps rugby club.
The football club has been temporarily playing at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s ground amid the dispute with the council and would-be landlords Wasps.
Planning and highways issues near to the university include the planned King’s Hill housing development, the HS2 rail line, proposed developments at Whitley, and the Gateway near Coventry Airport.
But it is hoped existing proposals to redesign and enhance roads and infrastructure in the area could benefit the stadium plan.
Public transport options could include a new rail station at King’s Hill mooted last year, and eventually the Very Light Rail people-mover project planned to stop at the university.
The heavyweight academic institution’s involvement could add political clout to what is being planned as a groundbreaking project of benefit for the West Midlands region now overseen by the combined authority. Any planning rejection could go to appeal at a national level.
It is understood the project’s partners are already examining potential sporting and academic link-ups, such as in sports science, hospitality, and with the Sky Blues in the Community programme.
A statement today reads: “Coventry City Football Club and the University of Warwick are delighted to announce that they have commenced planning for a partnership, which would see the university provide land to the club for the development of a new stadium, thereby creating a new home for the football club with easy access for fans living in the city of Coventry.
“Whilst an exact site has yet to be agreed, its proximity would be on the agricultural field area of the university on Warwickshire land on its main campus at the southwest edge of Coventry.
“The club will own and be entirely responsible for the cost of the stadium and its operation. Equally, the club will receive all stadium revenues it generates.
“Both the university and the club are committed to a visionary, environmentally
friendly stadium in terms of materials, energy, noise, building and, of course, access.
“We envision supporters arriving at the stadium through a new light rail station at the ground running alongside a new link road.
“This will require significant discussion and partnership work with all surrounding local authorities, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the (Coventry and Warwickshire) Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure the funding and support is there to provide that infrastructure.
“The club and the university wanted to make people aware of this exciting new development as soon as possible and hope that, in doing so, it will pave the way to many discussions needed with a range of partners to progress this project.
“The club and the university do not expect to issue any further joint statements on this initiative until there is significant news that we can share.”
The news comes as fans wait to learn where home games will be played next season – in Birmingham or at the Ricoh – in English football’s second-tier, after two promotions in three years under team manager Mark Robins.
The club has the option of another year at St Andrew’s while the governing EFL is monitoring the club’s attempts to return to the city area in the medium-term.
Previous proposals for a stadium at the former Woodlands School site in Tile Hill, Coventry, appear to have stalled after planning negotiations with the council.
Earlier groundshare talks collapsed with Coventry rugby club at an expanded Butts Park Arena – where the council also owns the freehold.
The university has seen much development in recent years, including a huge new modern sports centre in vast acres of undeveloped land and state-of-the-art sporting facilities on main campus at Cryfield Village.
Other new landmarks include the Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Building and there are cranes in the sky for Warwick Arts Centre’s redevelopment.