Wakefield Wildcats’ historic stadium is to see its biggest improvement project for more than a decade.
Wildcats chiefs are ploughing “significant” six figure sum in to the project, which they are confident will secure the club’s Super League licence.
New roofs are being built over the west and north terraces at the 11,000 capacity Rapid Solicitors Stadium during the first improvements since the late 1990s.
Club chiefs say the roofing will protect up to 7,000 fans from the elements. Construction finishes later this month,
Currently only around 1,600 fans are under cover.
Club chairman Andrew Glover says the ground improvements honour promises made in last year’s Wildcats licence application to the Rugby Football League.
Mr Glover told the YEP the initiative is not a “Plan B” if the club’s ambitious plans for a new 12,000 seater community stadium are vetoed.
The club has planning permission for two years for the revamped stands and club chiefs still hope to leave Belle Vue.
Wildcats will find out on or before May 31 if they have won a planning battle over a planned new community stadium in Stanley.
Mr Glover, who owns West Yorkshire Windows, said : “There has been no investment in the stadium since 1998. In one year we have pretty much re-developed as much as is possible.”
He added: “The fans have got everything crossed hoping we get planning permission (for the new stadium.) All of the signs are very positive.”
Mr Glover said new roofing at Belle Vue will also boost income at the club as Wildcats lose up to £30,000 in gate receipts when fans stay away on rain affected match days.
Other improvements a the club include revamping of the three bars; a new 90 seater restaurant and improved changing rooms and gyms.
A two-week public inquiry was held in Wakefield in December over the York Court Properties plans to build a £19m community stadium in Stanley.
The Secretary of State ordered the inquiry due to the scale of the planned development after Wakefield Council’s planning board members unanimously approved the plans in October 2010.
Leeds City Council chiefs are objecting to the scheme, claiming it would have a negative impact on green belt land between Leeds and Wakefield.
But Wakefield Council say it is crucial it goes ahead to create a estimated 2,000 jobs and secure the historic rugby league club’s future.
York Court Properties wants to build the new stadium – to be leased to Wakefield and District Community Trust – as part of a wider 100 acre business park on and around the site of the former Newmarket Silkstone Colliery.