Grange Road Ground update
A CURUFC/University Review Group was set up in January 2017 and short-term funding was secured as a result of these discussions through a £90k one off grant to help the Club. In addition, the discussions had covered possible University assistance towards maintaining Grange Road. In 2018/19 this included a Grant for specific Health and Safety maintenance jobs to be undertaken and for 2019/20 a Grant was received for the regular Health and Safety costs related to the ground. Further talks concerning a regular maintenance Grant for the short term were delayed by Coronavirus.
In the summer of 2020 CURUFC worked with local building companies to sponsor the redecoration of the Pavilion and Comber Stand. In December 2020 the excellent news was received that from 20/21 onwards the University have agreed to give a significant recurring grant to CURUFC for the purpose of running and maintaining Grange Road.
In terms of a possible development of the ground, the following three scenarios have been discussed:
- Modest refurbishment of Grange Road
- Relocation (at the request of the University)
- Major redevelopment of Grange Road to include:
- replace floodlights
- new top quality artificial surface
- refurbishment of the Club House & the development of 2 or 4 new changing rooms
The University has been most enthusiastic about option 3) to focus on Grange Road being a major University Sports location for field sports; one which could be used 40hrs a week. Discussions about this option progressed positively during 2017 and the University gave its strategic backing to this project through its registration as a University capital project, which was an important and positive step forwards for the Club. However, this does not guarantee any University funding and the next step is to discuss with the University and other clubs, how finance can be secured for this project, which is likely to be a lengthy process and not necessarily guaranteed. Graham Virgo, Pro VC Education, is very much pro sport and in October 2018 he became Senior Pro VC for the University. The project has been mentioned to local business and Club sponsors who are interested in these evolving steps.
These discussions are complex as they will involve the Ground Trust that owns the ground and Jesus College which possesses a covenant to the land. Furthermore, the land falls within the green belt, is designated as protected open space and is in a conversation area (along with the training pitch). Security over the use of the training pitch is an important part of the project.
The logical next steps are important for the Club to follow through on and would involve:
- Talking through the evolving proposals with Jesus College
- Meeting with the planners
- Continuing to engage with/update the key decision makers
- Continuing to develop closer links with the University
Discussions have been positive to date, however, challenging and protracted discussions are likely to lie ahead, and the project is not one within the Club’s sole control. The Club’s RL 150 Campaign plays a crucial part of contributing and influencing the outcome of these discussions. The University is more likely to financially support this strategic project if the Club is working hard to help itself with fundraising both through its alumni base and through local sponsorship.