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New stadium in Cornwall could change the sporting landscape

City AM logo City AM 27/10/2021 Matt Hardy
© Provided by City AM

For a region boasting a population of 550,000, it has long been an anomaly that Cornwall lacks a large-scale sports stadium.

That could begin to change today, however, as a decision at today’s Budget could set in motion a series of events resulting in a major shift of Cornwall’s sporting landscape.

The Stadium for Cornwall project plans to bring a 6,000-seater stadium, later expanding to 10,000, to Langarth, making it the county’s first ever stadium of that size.

The new venue, which is earmarked to cost £15m-£24m, would eventually become home for Southern League football team Truro City and Championship rugby union outfit Cornish Pirates.

After Truro’s previous attempts to redevelop their existing stadium at Treyew Road, they and Cornish Pirates began joint plans for their current, 50-acre development site.

The hope today is that the government, who backed the plans following the 2015 General Election, supports the development and meets a £14m pledge requested by the Cornish clubs.

“This is a huge opportunity for Cornwall,” said Rebecca Thomas, chief executive of both Pirates and City. 

“To maintain professional sport in the area is something that must be continued, especially for the younger generation who can aspire to reach their dreams or just experience sport at a certain level.”

Should the stadium funding be granted, in conjunction with finances raised by the clubs, shovels could break ground in the coming months.

The project could have particularly profound ramifications for Cornish Pirates, one of the biggest teams outside the English top division.

Rugby’s Premiership is next year expanding to 14 teams, and many see the final spot as a straight fight between the Pirates and west London side Ealing Trailfinders.

The Stadium for Cornwall would go a long way to satisfying the promotion criteria for entry to the Premiership and provide a significant increase in Pirates’ match day income.

Were Pirates to become an established Premiership side, it would offer the league a new market and potentially dilute the talent pool available to Exeter Chiefs, who until now have had the pick of south west talent.

It is hoped a decision will be made today by chancellor Rishi Sunak in his annual budget, but the two Cornish clubs have a form of contingency in place should the funding not be approved.

“We hope the government will support the stadium plans for the region,” added Thomas.

 “The project is wider than just professional sports clubs, it impacts the college and the planned concussion and rehab centre.

“It is no secret that both Truro and Cornish Pirates are heavily supported by one main benefactor [Dicky Evans] at the moment and this can’t continue forever.”

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