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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 20:58 GMT
Hamman's stadium plan challenge
A computer simulation of the proposed new stadium for Cardiff City FC
Hamman's goal: A new stadium for Cardiff City FC
Cardiff City football club owner Sam Hammam has won the backing of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Russell Goodway, in his plans for a new stadium.

It follows a meeting on Wednesday about the projected 50m, 30,000-seater stadium in the Leckwith area of the city, across the road from the club's present Ninian Park ground.

But Mr Goodway said council approval would depend on "zero tolerance" of hooliganism in the wake of crowd trouble at Cardiff's third-round FA Cup win over Leeds on 6 January.

The council insists that it remains enthusiastic about the proposed development but any scheme could be subject to a review by the Welsh Assembly.

Neil MacNamara and Sam Hammam
Chairman Hammam: Pledges a war on hooliganism

Following the meeting Mr Goodway said he was satisfied that the club was serious about its efforts to stamp out hooliganism.

The behaviour of Cardiff fans during and after the FA Cup match has associated the city with some of the worst headlines about football trouble in recent years.

Cardiff council has so far encouraged his plans to create a new home for The Bluebirds in his drive to take the team into the Premiership.

The local authority has given Mr Hamman 12-months to develop his proposals for a 30,000-seater stadium, a venue the club wants to be able to extend to 55,000-60,000 seats at a later date.

Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Russell Goodway
Russell Goodway believes Sam Hammam is sincere

The club's controversial chairman sees a new stadium as crucial to the club's chances of entering and remaining football's top flight.

But the task of building a replacement for Ninian Park could turn out to be tougher than turning Cardiff FC into a Premiership side for the Lebanese multi-millionaire who made his name turning Wimbledon into one of the country's top teams.

His draft stadium proposals - no application has been submitted - include creating 450,000sq ft of retailing.

His problem is that, as the capital of Wales, Cardiff has a backlog of similar shopping development schemes building up.

The council is concerned that existing shopping centres could be damaged if there is overprovision - and his scheme is one of the largest.

Crowds in Cardiff city cente
Busy city: visitors to Cardiff want shopping and sports events

For kick-off, three major redevelopments for the city centre are ahead of his scheme, one costing 500.

And five other projects are planned for the edge of the city, the zone where a new Ninian Park would be located, including a 700m sports village in Cardiff Bay promising dozens of upmarket shopping outlets.

One of these five projects is also Wales's first Ikea store, a 250,000sq ft development on an old gasworks site in Cardiff Bay.

Ikea stores are well known for attacting huge volumes of traffic - people in south and east Wales are reliable visitors to the Bristol store - and the Cardiff site would have an estimated 1.8m people within an hour's drive time.

If that does not lead Cardiff City facing an 8-nil defeat, there is a straightforward cash headache to take into account for a new stadium build.

Ikea's advert before it decided on the Cardiff Bay site
Ikea promises 500 jobs at its Cardiff store

The proposed site, across the road from Ninian Park, would require the removal of the adjacent athletics stadium.

Cardiff City would have to pay for the athletic stadium's relocation to council land nearby, bringing a bill of up to 9m.

But the first and largest hurdle remains landing the appropriate retail planning permission ahead of some Premiership-standard competition.

Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan perhaps summed up the challenge for the club when he said of the city new planning prospects: "They are not all going to go ahead, we all realise that, there will be a race to the finishing line."

Lord Mayor Russell Goodway
"I have received all the commitments I need"
Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam
"We need a modern stadium and to control hooliganism"
See also:

13 Dec 00 | Cardiff City
Bluebirds look to leave their nest
04 Jan 01 | Wales
Wales welcomes cup final coup
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