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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Tug-of-war over Cardiff stadia
Planned new stadium for Cardiff City
An agreement has been signed for the £100m stadium development
Cardiff City are staying tight-lipped over a plea by Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive David Moffett not to build themselves a new 60,000 seater home but to use the Millennium Stadium instead.

A Bluebirds spokesman said on Wednesday that chairman Sam Hammam was unavailable to comment on the controversial statement by the Welsh rugby chief.

The Moffett intervention into the new Cardiff stadium debate may have been prompted by the WRU's £60m debt burden and the need to maximise the use of the Millennium Stadium.

He said he was also trying to attract major show jumping and boxing events and wants WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe to defend his title there.

He believes there is no room for a new 60,000-seat stadium in the capital alongside the existing 74,000 Millennium showpiece - in which Cardiff City won promotion to the First Division on Sunday.

But City boss Hammam has already signed an agreement with Cardiff County Council to allow him to press ahead with a £100m development in the west of the capital.

David Moffett
Moffett says pitch problems could be overcome

An application for outline planning permission to include a stadium, and also a 400,000 sq ft retail site across the road from the existing Ninian Park stadium, is expected to be made in the next few months.

It is not only supported by Cardiff Council but it has also has been welcomed by Cardiff Chamber of Commerce which sees the large-scale food and sport retail as the type of trade not easily carried out in the town centre.

And on the sports side Lynne Williams, Chief Executive of Cardiff 2008, said that having two world-class stadia could only benefit Cardiff's bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008 since sport would be a central part of the bid.

Still, Mr Moffett insists the Millennium Stadium would be ideal for the Bluebirds, if the problem of too much wear and tear on the grass surface with both rugby and football being played there, could be overcome.

He said: "This problem could be solved if turf manufacturers came up with an artificial playing surface suitable for both codes to play on. I believe UEFA have recently sanctioned a trial of a new synthetic pitch."

Uefa has, in fact, selected five European stadiums for further research into the possible future use of artificial turf playing fields for UEFA competition matches.

Millennium Stadium
Cardiff won promotion at the Millennium Stadium
The five venues are the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, which already has an artificial turf pitch; the new Salzburg stadium in the Austrian city of the same name; the Eyravallen stadium in Örebro, Sweden; the Polman-Stadion in Almelo, Holland and the Atatürk Stadium in the Turkish city of Denizli.

The artificial turf surface at the Salzburg stadium should be ready by the spring, while the pitches in Sweden and Turkey are still at the planning and construction stage.

The choice of venues is the latest step in Uefa's close involvement in the development of artificial turf.

This may culminate in the widespread replacement of grass pitches by artificial turf pitches, as the football authorities search for solutions to enable football to be played in all weather conditions on surfaces that are as close as possible to natural grass.

The pilot project is expected to last until 2005 with the results expected to be ready then.

A Football League spokesman said it was possible for rugby and football clubs to play on the same pitch, and gave as an example London Irish and Reading.

He added that there had been a drastic improvement in the quality of composite Desso pitches, mainly grass but with artificial fibre strengthening.




SEE ALSO:
Hammam scores stadium plan win
13 Nov 02  |  Wales
Stadium disabled seats reviewed
19 Feb 03  |  Wales
Cardiff pitch to be relaid
24 Apr 01  |  Wales


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