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Stadium for Cornwall – The Final Countdown

Posted: December 8, 2019
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Stadium for Cornwall – The Final Countdown

Statement by RGR ‘Dicky’ Evans – Sunday 8th December

I am delighted to say that we have completed all documentation requirements on the transfer of the land from INOX via the Council to the Cornish Pirates.

This now means that we can proceed with the design and preparation of the construction documentation for the stadium and in due course go out to tender with a view to commencing construction on the designated site in time for completion in summer 2022.

There are no more hurdles to cross!

At the same time, we can also now start fundraising in earnest, commencing with the launch of crowdfunding in time for Christmas. This is excellent news and I’m indebted to Rob Saltmarsh and Nigel Blackler and Phil Mason from the Council for listening to my almost continuous arguments for letting us have the land prior to them completing the legals on their transaction with INOX for the purchase of the large tracts of development land abutting the stadium.

Turning to fundraising, our preferred option is to approach the new government come Friday on the path we have been attempting to cross for the last 18 months, and the second route is to fund from our own channels through high net worth individuals / investment banks / venture capitalists. However, who that new government will be will have a huge influence on our Stadium plans.

We won’t know the final cost of the Stadium until such time as we have completed our tendering procedures but doubtless it will have gone up from the £14 million envisaged two years ago.

A brief explanation of the work that has been undertaken on Government support is necessary here as when we went into this scenario in April 2018, we were certainly under the impression from previous public comments made by all and sundry that this was almost a foregone conclusion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Primarily, to get Government funding we were instructed by the Minister at the time that we had to work with Sport England (SE). They have been fastidious in their due diligence and I have to say a big thank you to Tim Wood our Project Manager here for his continuous 15 months input in this respect. However, ANY money coming from the Government had to be channelled through SE who would then have a 25-year oversight control on our management (especially on outreach activities).

This meant we were moving away from the main theme of the Stadium and what will make it financially viable – top class sport allied to hospitality venues and events.

Working on very good advice I received from the CEO of SE, who was excellent may I say and understood our plight, we eventually convinced the government that the SE involvement was unworkable for us.

Nevertheless, the Government cannot provide funds in the form of a grant to a private sector company, such as the Cornish Pirates.

Consequently, we are working with the Council to get any funds channelled to us in the form of a grant to fall under the funding agreement we have agreed and are signing with the council this week for their £3 million grant.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer was in our Parish this week as a guest of Derek Thomas who has been the MP for St Ives. The Chancellor was provided with a brief and a set of documents outlining the project in detail.

Derek Thomas has been unbelievably helpful in getting access to the Chancellor and I am aware he doesn’t blow his own trumpet but without his influence and efforts in the corridors of power we would be nowhere and definitely ‘up a creek with no paddle’.

At the same time the Chancellor repeated the point that we must have ownership of the land prior to any funding being allocated in whatever form it takes.

Moving on, we are ready to let the dogs loose on construction of the Stadium and it would hold no fears for myself were we to take a government grant, secured over 25 years alongside the council grant, to enable construction without any borrowings.

We also have other fish to fry, as during the last 18 months we have been busy ensuring that the Stadium is viable and in this respect we have pinpointed three pieces of land totalling about 12 acres of land (thereby doubling the size of the Stadium area) – 10 acres in two tranches of land which we can develop with investors and another piece that allows us to move the Stadium pitch west and south of its original siting. This allows an hotel to be constructed on the Stadium site overlooking the actual playing surface.

All of these developments will make the Stadium truly iconic and we are talking to investors at this time.

I will write another piece on this next week when we have clarity on who is holding the reins of power in 10, Downing Street (or actually 11).

In conclusion, I hold out no hope whatsoever for any funding from the Government should the Chancellor not be in place come Friday.

I recall we lost the chance of a University in Penzance in 1998, which really was a travesty for the area, and then again the chance to sort out the chaotic Penzance harbour was lost in 2009/10.

We must move forward and the Stadium for Cornwall is one project that does, I am pleased to say, have the support of the local MP.

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