Bradford Bulls to quit historic Odsal Stadium and move in with rivals Dewsbury Rams
BRADFORD BULLS will move out of Odsal Stadium and play at Dewsbury Rams for the next two seasons, signalling the end of their long association with their famous home.
Chairman Andrew Chalmers made the announcement last night with the former World Club champions – now operating in the Championship – having already admitted they can ill-afford to keep playing out of the decaying stadium.
He had refused to sign a new lease with the RFL – who own the leasehold – which means their final game at the stadium, where they first played in 1934, will be against Sheffield Eagles on September 1.
Chalmers insists he has already begun talks about looking elsewhere in the city to start building a new stadium although that will be a long-term project for the club that has been beset with so many financial problems in their recent history.
He said: “The Rugby Football League stepped in to assume the lease-hold interest around 2012, to protect rugby league being played at Odsal, and in doing so enabled the club at that time tenure to play, but under challenging economic circumstances.
“The reality is that Odsal Stadium, should have had a “sinking fund” set up to deal with the inevitable repair, redevelopment and replacement of the stadium.
“This is like an account allocating funds over a long period of time to deal with the inevitable issues and of course replacement at the end of its economic life.
“From my observation, this didn’t happen, and was one of the major concerns I flagged when I was being asked to sign a lease of Odsal Stadium.”
Chalmers thanked Dewsbury owner Mark Sawyer for the “extremely favourable” deal provided by their Championship neighbours for 2020 and 2021.
He said moves to Valley Parade or Horsfall Stadium were unviable.
Chalmers added: “I can also confirm we have already begun the process of identifying potential alternative stadium development sites, and one of these has been raised with the Bradford Council already.”
“We have also had discussion with an experienced stadium developer in the region, and have signed a memorandum of understanding with this large group to work to evaluate an affordable development option within the Bradford city boundaries.
“This will realistically be a two to four year process.”