Chairman Paul Caddick has reflected on the “incredible” progress made at Headingley stadium since he and chief executive Gary Hetherington took over two decades ago.
This week marks 20 years since Caddick became owner of Leeds CF&A Co Ltd, the company that controlled the Leeds Rugby League team and Headingley stadium.
When Caddick and Hetherington took over they acquired a rugby league club that had racked up £5 million worth of debt and narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, an ageing stadium - with the last major redevelopment having been the construction of the Main Stand in 1932 - and a tenant in Yorkshire CCC who had given notice that they intended to end more than 100 years of Test cricket in Leeds to move to Durkar, near Wakefield.
Caddicks’ initial aim was to persuade Yorkshire CCC’s members to remain at Headingley and maintain the legacy of Test match cricket for future generations in Leeds.
He feels the latest proposed development on both sides of the stadium - which is currently going through the planning process - will complete his initial vision of a modern venue fit to host top-class events in three sports.
Commenting on the past two decades - in a statement released through Leeds Rhinos - Caddick said: “When I think back to where we were 20 years ago, it is incredible how much has been achieved.
“Through working in partnership with Yorkshire CCC we have achieved more progress in that time that had been achieved in the decades that had gone before.
“Throughout the last 20 years all stadium planning and redevelopment works have been supported by the Caddick group’s specialist planning, construction and development teams.
“We now face our next challenge to complete that vision and finally secure once and for all the future of world class cricket at Headingley and in Leeds.
“Both Yorkshire CCC and Leeds Rugby have developed together a new £40m scheme that will significantly improve the spectators’ safety and experience at the stadium and maintain international status for both international Test match cricket and rugby of both codes.
“The clubs have assembled a funding package in principle which involves investment from both clubs and support from both Leeds City Council and other public bodies.
“In addition, the sale of historical land assets will complete the funding of the scheme leaving the clubs in a stable long term financial position.”
Caddick added: “Twenty years ago, the threat to Headingley was a very real.
“The Caspian Group were the front-runners to purchase Leeds RLFC and the Yorkshire CCC members had been attracted by offers outside the city of Leeds.
“I am proud that we have not only seen off those threats, but begun the long overdue process of redeveloping the stadium.
“We have managed that whilst also maintaining success on the field for rugby and cricket.
“Throughout the past 20 years the Caddick Group, in partnership with its associated companies, have written off over £18m of accumulated debt to leave the Leeds Rhinos now in a strong positive cash flow position.”
Detailing the sums spent, Caddick said: “Back in 1996, a vision was outlined to Yorkshire members for a £32 million development of the stadium on both rugby and cricket sides to secure the stadium as a major sporting venue in the country.
“Since then the total spent on major developments on the stadium and training facilities over the last 20 years now totals over £50m.
“I am committed to doing everything possible to maintain Test match cricket at Headingley.”
Rhinos have won seven Super League titles under Caddick’s chairmanship, as well as the Challenge Cup, Super League leaders’ shield and World Club Challenge three times each.
A potted history of the last 20 years:
1997-1999 – Two years of often bitter negotiations with the then committee of Yorkshire CCC to keep Test match cricket at Headingley continue with Leeds CF&A working closely with Leeds City Council to make the case to remain.
1998 – Less than two years after the take over, Leeds Rhinos reach the inaugural Grand Final at Old Trafford. A sizeable investment in the squad, including a record transfer fee to secure Iestyn Harris, kick starts the revival and the business is developed to begin to tackle and reduce the club’s debt.
1999 – Leeds Rhinos win the Challenge Cup at Wembley for the first time in 21 years.
2000 - £750,000 is spent on refurbishing the Rugby South Stand including a new roof and facilities for spectators.
2000 – A new deal structured between Leeds CF&A and Yorkshire CCC with the ultimate aim that Yorkshire will eventually be in a position to own their home for the first time since its formation in 1863, with the aim of securing the ground’s Test match status.
2001 – Significant investment by Paul Caddick enables Leeds Tykes to bring Premiership rugby union to the city of Leeds.
2001 – The cricket West Stand and Enclosure becomes first part of the redevelopment, costing £10m and opened for the Ashes Test on August 15.
2002 – A new training facility, situated on the site of the old Headingley Rugby Union club, is opened to house both Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Tykes first team and academy sides in a groundbreaking initiative
2002 – East Stand development creates new indoor cricketing practise area, Long Bar and 32-bedroom hotel for the complex and sees the Bowling Green site redeveloped to create a new entrance for the stadium. The total project costs £10m.
2004 – Leeds Rhinos win their first Championship in 32 years with victory at Old Trafford over Bradford with a side dominated by young, local players who will go on to inspire a generation of players in the city.
2005 – Leeds Rhinos are crowned World Champions with victory over Australian Champions Canterbury Bulldogs at a sold out Elland Road in the same year that Leeds Tykes win the Powergen Cup at Twickenham.
2005 – In December 2005, history is made as Paul Caddick fulfils his promise from nine years earlier to allow Yorkshire CCC to own their home. For the first time in 115 years, the cricket stadium at Headingley is the property of the members of Yorkshire CCC.
2006 – The first major development works on the rugby stadium for 70 years is completed with the construction of the Carnegie Stand at the eastern end of the rugby ground at a cost of £7m. The development also integrates the stadium into the wider Headingley community through the partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University.
2008 – Structural works carried out on South Stand to prevent the stand from being closed at a cost of £500,000.
2010 – The Carnegie Pavilion is opened at a cost of £21m with new facilities for Yorkshire CCC as part of a partnership with Leeds Beckett University.
2012 – For the first time since the 1960s, the Headingley rugby pitch is relayed at a cost of £1m. The installation of undersoil heating and modern drainage means the pitch is now suitable to attract all year round international matches of both codes.
2014 – Work begins to install permanent floodlighting on the cricket ground for the first time to meet modern standards.
2015 – Leeds Rhinos win the treble for the first time in the club’s history completing an incredible 11-year period that has seen the club win seven Super League titles, three World titles, three League Leaders Shields and two Challenge Cups as well as featuring in a further seven finals during that period.
2016 – Training ground is redeveloped following the Christmas floods and re-opened within six months at a cost in excess of £1.5 million.