Torquay United and council in early-stage talks about new stadium at Barton
Torquay United are in talks with a major American development company and Plainmoor landlords Torbay Council over an ambitious new stadium and housing scheme in the Barton area of the town.
The relegation-haunted Gulls say that, if negotiations between the council and the developers go well, they could leave their home of 105 years and be in the new £7.5 million stadium, which would have a 4G all-weather pitch and an initial capacity of 6,000, as early as the 2017-2018 season.
Torbay's Mayor Gordon Oliver joined club officials and guests at a scheduled 'Business Breakfast' at the Launa Windows Stadium today to announce the plans.
The new ground, which could be called the Riviera Stadium, will be on a 42-acre site between the Willows retail and residential area and Torbay Crematorium.
The completion of the South Devon Link Road, plus plans for a new rail station at Edginswell and a connecting footbridge, has clearly played a part in the latest plans.
United chairman David Phillips – he's a bookmaker by trade – admitted: "We are well aware that we are 9/1 on to go down at the moment, although there's a long way to go and we are doing everything we can to stay up, but a development like this is the only way for the club to be self-sustainable.
"We were approached about two months ago by the American company, and I didn't take it that seriously at the time.
"But they were very persistent, they kept coming back and now we have put the company and the Council together.
"Once they start talking, the ball should be rolling pretty fast."
United's chief executive Stephen Breed said: "If we don't look forward, we will die. So this is a win-win situation for the club.
"The club gets a new stadium and, importantly, the revenue from the ground, the all-weather pitch and other facilities around it, and it doesn't cost us a penny."
Mr Oliver said: "The club have approached us on this important issue and we are very pleased to see how this might work.
"The site that they have identified is zoned in the local plan for sport on Riviera Way. We are at an early stage – seeing how it can all work and the major economic benefits it will bring.
"From the club's point of view, the community and the investment, we would want it to happen fairly soon – but we are at early stages of the negotiations with the developers that Torquay have introduced us to.
"It all has to go through the democratic process with the local authority, but we welcome the initial ideas and thoughts because, if you look at what happens in the two major cities in Devon, we are missing out on a multi-purpose facility.
"That is something we would welcome, because it would provide an extra income – not only for the club, but it would have a wider influence on Torbay's sporting and business communities.
"It has lots of advantages that we need to explore."
United officials attended a meeting of the National League in the Midlands last week, when the use of 4G pitches in future was approved by a majority of clubs.
Phillips added: "It's still our ambition to get back into the Football League, and we believe that League Two is getting closer all the time to agreeing to 4G pitches as well."
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