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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 17:36 GMT
Hammam scores stadium plan win
A computer simulation of the proposed new stadium for Cardiff City FC
Hammam's goal: A new stadium for Cardiff City FC
Cardiff City boss Sam Hammam has won the next stage of his plan to build an all-seater stadium for his club with a giant retail park alongside.

The county council has signed an agreement allowing him to press ahead with a 100m development in the west of the Welsh capital.


We did have reservations initially - but our concerns were assuaged

Helen Conway Cardiff Chamber of Commerce

An application for outline planning permission for a 60,000 seater Premiership-standard football venue and an associated 400,000 square foot retail site across the road from the existing Ninian Park stadium is expected to be made in the next few months.

The development has been welcomed by business leaders and Cardiff 2008, the organisation heading the city's bid to be named European Capital of Culture in six years time.

The announcement marks significant progress for Mr Hammam's ambition to see the Bluebirds move to a new home as they set their sights on moving up football's ranks.

At the beginning of 2002, Cardiff's Lord Mayor, Russell Goodway, warned him he had to crack down hard on the club's hooligan element following a series of disturbances at home and away matches.

And business leaders were worried the scale of the proposed development would swamp smaller outlets in both the city centre as well as the west of the Cardiff.

Sam Hammam
Sam Hammam: Ambitions for Cardiff FC

The formal agreement with Cardiff council suggests the local authority is confident the former Wimbledon club owner is winning the war against the club's thuggish supporters and has also allayed the fears of the city's business community.

The stadium scheme has won broad backing from organisations which promote the city at home and abroad.

Helen Conway, chief executive of Cardiff Chamber of Commerce, said: "We do welcome it - we did have reservations initially about the retail element of it and the amount of retail on offer, 400,000sq ft is a lot to fill.

"But, talking to the developer, our concerns were assuaged because of the type of retail that is going to go in it.

"It will mostly be large-scale food retail and sports retail, the type of volume retail that is not easily carried out in a town or city centre.

Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam gestures to the Ninian Park crowd
Crowd control: Hammam has pledge to fight hooliganism

"Also, there will be a park-and-ride facility to the city centre, during the week.

"The project in its entirety is something that we welcome as the next piece of the jigsaw to make the capital city of Wales in to what other capital cites are."

Vincent Kane, chairman of Cardiff Initiative, said: "This is fantastic news. We are seeing what a phenomenal impact the Millennium Stadium had had on Cardiff.

"This second stadium is proof of our ever-increasing confidence as a destination."

Lynne Williams, chief executive of Cardiff 2008, said: "Sport is a central part of Cardiff's bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Signing

"That we will have two world-class stadia here can only further strengthen our bid."

Cardiff City has said it will fund the 100m scheme from its own resources.

The first phase will see a 30,000-seater stadium to premier league standards go up on council land at Leckwith Road, opposite the current Ninian Park.

A statement from the club said: "The new stadium will be designed to provide the Cardiff City FC with facilities to match the best football stadiums in the UK."

This week the club signed China's World Cup defender Fan Zhiyi, 33, who was voted Asian Player of the Year in 2001.

Zhiyi said he signed for the side because he was convinced they were going to reach the premiership.


More from south east Wales
See also:

16 Jan 02 | Wales
06 Nov 02 | Wales
04 Jan 01 | Wales
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