Hull City unveils plans for £25m Sporting Village at Walton Street – and wants Hull Fair moved

Hull City is planning an ambitious £25m investment project to breathe new life into the area surrounding MKM Stadium with the construction of Yorkshire’s premier sports village.

The multi-million pound project is part of the long-term vision of owner Acun Ilicali, who is looking to establish the Tigers as a force in the Premier League in the near future while taking the first steps towards what it wants to be a one lasting impact on the region. However, the plan may also involve a controversial relocation of the Hull Fair from its historic Walton Street location.

Hull City Council leader Michael Ross has welcomed the plans and confirmed that talks are ongoing about the future of the stadium site. He told Hull Live that he believes a Hull City sports campus could be housed on the Walton Street site along with the Hull Fair.

Read more: Full interview with Hull City vice chairman on ambitious expansion

At the heart of City’s plans would be a brand new, state-of-the-art training facility that would bring the club’s first team and academy together under one roof for the first time. There are also longer-term plans to increase capacity as part of a wider refurbishment program at the 25,500-seat stadium, which celebrated its 20th anniversary late last year.

Walton Street car park with MKM Stadium in the distance. Hull City wants a £25m development on the site(Image: Duncan Young)

The football club, which also works under the guise of heads of Stadium Management Company (SMC), which runs the stadium on behalf of Hull City Council, have formed a working group that includes Hull FC owner Adam Pearson. Mr Pearson was the first to propose the idea of ​​a Sports Village in West Hull when he oversaw the initial construction of the stadium.

Improved relations between the football and rugby league clubs have allowed the new plans to move forward more quickly. Hull Live understands that preliminary discussions have already been held with Hull City Council on the feasibility of the Sports Village plan and the acquisition of land in West Park.

City have long since outgrown their current training ground in Cottingham and a potential sale of the football club-owned site would provide valuable funds for the overall cost of the project, which was first announced by Hull Live last year.

The ‘Sports Village’, as it is dubbed by the project stakeholders, would adopt a similar theme to the Etihad campus in Manchester, although City’s plans are of course a scaled down version of Manchester City’s plans and will be specific to the football club and to the needs of Hull FC, which are an important component of this deal.

A key to approving the project is for the club to agree a long-term lease for the stadium, which is owned by Hull City Council, and Hull Live understand local authorities are open to handing this over to Ilicali and giving assurances the feasibility, financing and above all the long-term security of the project are met. A deal that includes a new lease for Hull FC is also crucial as the rugby league club’s current deal has just five years left.

The MKM Stadium and Grounds occupied by Hull Fair, Top which aims to develop Hull City into a Sports Village(Image: Hull Live)

Another major sticking point is the land surrounding the stadium, with the Walton Street car park being central to any potential plans. The football club would like to build their new sports village on the site of the car park, but the new development’s footprint will likely need to be adjusted due to its longstanding agreement with the Showman’s Guild to host the historic Hull Fair.

Speaking to Hull Live, council leader Ross said: “As a city we know how important the stadium has been to clubs but also to the local community over the last 20 years. There is also a long history of the Hull Fair, something the community of Hull values ​​very much. The fair is part of the fabric of the city and will remain so for many years to come.

“The missing piece of the puzzle is the broader redevelopment of the area and as such I applaud Hull City’s investment and ambition. The council is working closely with them on possible options for developing the MKM Stadium. We all agree that future development along with the success and sustainability of the stadium for both Hull City and Hull FC are vital to the region. Critically, we also believe this can be done in a way that guarantees the future of the Hull Fair at Walton Street.”

Under the plans, a host of new pitches and academy buildings would be built to accommodate Hull City’s first team and academy, currently run from Millhouse Woods in Cottingham and Bishop Burton College.

It is also hoped that a smaller stadium, with a capacity of around 12,000, could be built on the site to give the city a unique venue for national and local sporting events whilst also providing a potential home for Hull FC should they wish to relocate as well as a venue for the city’s U21s to play.

The Etihad Campus, Manchester City Football Club’s training ground and home of Manchester City Football Academy(Image: David Goddard/Getty)

Later, there is also a desire to increase the total capacity of MKM Stadium to over 30,000, while building a museum in Hull City as part of the overall development project remains firmly on the agenda.

Discussions with the council are well underway and initial plans have been drawn up, with representatives from City and FC owner Pearson working closely to get the project off the ground.

What do you think of the development plans for the MKM Stadium? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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