Cash-strapped Leeds City Council could hand millions of pounds to Yorkshire County Cricket Club to help with the cost of improvements to Headingley Stadium.
Yorkshire have asked the council for a £4m grant to cover a funding shortfall in plans for a £28.5m redevelopment of Headingley’s North-South Stand, which is shared between the cricket and rugby sides of the site.
The request will be discussed at a meeting of the local authority’s decision-making executive board next Wednesday.
And a council report prepared for the meeting recommends the grant be approved to help Headingley maintain its status as a top-flight cricket venue fit for hosting international matches that deliver major benefits to the wider Leeds economy.
Details of the club’s request have emerged amid fears that funding pressures could force the council to cut up to 2,000 jobs in the next four years.
Coun Richard Lewis, the council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “Yorkshire and cricket are practically synonymous and Headingley rolls off the tongue of people worldwide when discussing some of the great international cricket matches.
“Cricket at Headingley also makes a significant contribution to the economy in Leeds, bringing people in to see our wonderful city.
“So we have to work to keep international cricket at Headingley, an aim I am sure we can all get behind. This contribution, if passed, will give us a chance to ensure some more exciting international cricketing action coming from Yorkshire.”
Should the scheme get the green light, then the existing North-South Stand will be demolished and replaced with a stand capable of holding more than 5,000 fans on its cricket side and around 3,800 on its rugby side. Corporate and hospitality facilities would also be upgraded.
It is hoped the work would lead to Headingley being confirmed as the host of four money-spinning matches during the 2019 Cricket World Cup as well as future Test fixtures.
Council bosses believe the loss of international cricket would have a negative impact on the profile of the city and the county as a whole.
The proposals for the North-South Stand are part of a £40m masterplan for Headingley’s redevelopment that would also see the complete reconstruction of its rugby ground’s separate South Stand.
Yorkshire and their partners at Leeds Rugby are aiming to raise a significant chunk of the funding for the scheme by selling off two pieces of land for housing.
Their plans for the land at Tetley Field in Weetwood and Thorpe Lane in Tingley have come under fire from local residents, including TV writer Kay Mellor.