Commonwealth Games 2002
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Sports Talk Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Should athletics track be saved?
The City of Manchester Stadium may never host athletics again
Jonathan Edwards and Seb Coe have called for the City of Manchester Stadium's athletics track to be retained after the Games.

Is this just pie in the sky?


The buzz surrounding the athletics programme in Manchester has led some to ask why the City of Manchester Stadium is being handed over to football after the Games.

Manchester City have a deal to take delivery by August 2003 for what they hope will be a second successive season of Premiership action.

But some, including Coe, have pointed to Japan's World Cup stadia as an example of how football and athletics can co-exist.

Should athletics remain in Manchester?


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The stadium would not have been built without a long-term tenant to ensure Manchester didn't inherit its own Millenium Dome
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Jerry Serjeant,UK

I thought that the purpose of the National Lottery was to help sports like athletics that don't have a lot of money. My view is that football is a rich sport and can take care of itself. I never understood why public money is being put into Wembley.

It seems daft that the UK - with the fourth largest economy in the world - does not have facilities capable of holding the European, World Athletics or swimming championships. Commentators in the press seem to believe that the most important issue is the atmosphere for football supporters. Mixed use would be sensible, but it is unlikely to happen as the football lobby is too strong.
W Smith,Working in the US

I totally agree with Rob Bonnet. City are not getting the stadium for free. They are expected to pay around 1m per year to the City Council as well as attracting 40,000-plus crowds every other week to a run-down area of the city. The stadium would not have been built without a long-term tenant to ensure Manchester didn't inherit its own Millenium Dome.
Jerry Serjeant,UK

Manchester is the best athletics stadium in the country. If it remained we could host the European Championships and the World Championships. The atmosphere at the Commonwealths was brilliant. It seems crazy that it is being ripped up.

What makes it even worse is that the possibility of another stadium elsewhere to replace Manchester looks extremely unlikely especially given our track record of Wembley and Picketts Lock.

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Athletics had the opportunity to fund or co-fund a permanent stadium, and turned it down
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Steve, UK

Come on, it's about time athletics was given a real chance in this country - after all it is one of our most successful sports.
Malcolm Egner, UK

The decision to remove the track at Manchester post-Games is short-sighted and crass. There is no other comparable facility in the UK (including London) and further development of the sport demands access to such first-class facilities. I do not comprehend the reasoning - other than the financial benefit that will accrue to Man City FC. After all the effort put in by Manchester and other supporting bodies surely we can find a way to avoid this absurdity.
M J Lock, UK

After the Sydney Olympics, the track was moved about 300 yards to the State Athletics Stadium (still within the main Olympic complex.) Since the Olympics it has been used not only by elite athletes, but also by schools (my son's included) for their sports days.

This not only provides income for the stadium but gives the children a HUGE buzz to think they are running on the Olympic track. Keep the track in Manchester and capitalise on the success of the Games to give athletics and the community an ongoing boost.
Amanda Durack, Australia

I was at the last athletics night of the Games - and it was the best night of sporting action I have ever experienced.

But Rob is right. Athletics had the opportunity to fund or co-fund a permanent stadium, and turned it down. The reason was that they know there is no economic case for one.

Let's put aside the sentimentality, look back on the Games with the pride and affection they are due, then move on.
Steve, UK

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Having a fantastic stadium sitting empty most of the year is a complete waste
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Alex, England

Manchester has proved it can offer great enthusiasm and a unique atmosphere for a major sporting event. With the facilities already in place it is sad that they are to be torn down to make way for a second rate provincial football club.

I was surprised by Rob Bonnet's remarks. Why pour cold water on what has been an overwhelming success?
Anthony Scanlon, England

As an athlete, I find it hard to believe that whilst other countries manage to have a football pitch with a running track round it, Great Britain is incapable of doing so. I think it is a disgrace that the track is going to be taken up.

With UK Athletics' policy of having international competition's around the various parts of the country, having a stadium in Manchester would be excellent.
Abi Onatade, Great Britain

As an ex-athlete I experienced stadiums that varied from virtually empty (British League meetings), to half empty (AAA's, etc). The only time I was ever in a really busy stadium was the indoor track at Kelvin Hall, which holds far fewer people. A small, but busy stadium generates far more atmosphere than a vast empty one.

Athletics, disappointingly, is very much a third string sport and does not pull in the crowds. Having a fantastic stadium sitting empty most of the year is a complete waste.

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It would be a great loss for the track to be removed
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Lindsay Howarth, England

Ideally, several smaller stadiums around the country (around 5-6000 capacity) for most events would be sufficient, with a national stadium that can be converted as described in Rob's article for the big occasions.
Alex, England

Manchester City are actually swapping grounds, with the Council getting Maine Road in return. To say they are being "given" the ground is misleading - rent will also be paid to Manchester council towards the cost. This in turn, allowed for a budget to ensure the only things "given away" were tickets for the Games.

This ensured a full stadium and the atmosphere it created and we all enjoyed. Some people need to take off those rose-coloured wrap-arounds.
Andy, England

I think it would be a great loss for the track to be removed. The city of Manchester has hosted the best event I've ever seen in Britain, so I think it should be kept as an Athletics track.

Start a petition to keep the track, the nation wants to keep it! Our lives shouldn't completely revolve around football!
Lindsay Howarth, England

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Manchester should be a multiuse stadium, and football isn't the only sport we should cater for
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Mikko, England

Of course the stadium should be retained for athletics. Manchester City are a business, and should either build their own ground or go out of business. It's about time this country realised that football is a disaster area, stopped throwing money at it and started supporting sports we are actually good at.
Donald, Scotland

I have to agree with the words of Rob Bonnet. I have thoroughly enjoyed these Commonwealth Games; the atmosphere has been amazing and I truly hope that the profile of athletics has been raised throughout Great Britain as a result.

However, when it comes to the future of the stadium it boils down to the fact that Manchester City FC will bring in 48,000 spectators a week. Athletics will not.

How many world-class venues for athletics do we have in this country? Manchester should be a multiuse stadium, and football isn't the only sport we should cater for. We expect much of our sportsmen and women, but are we willing to give them the stage to perform on?
Mikko, England

I've been to every evening of the athletics, and although I have had an excellent week it is totally unrealistic to expect it to remain as an athletics track. There's no way they would fill that stadium if it wasn't for the big occasion of the Commonwealth Games.
Jim, Manchester, UK

As someone who visited the track and field events last Saturday, I think that the stadium should be mixed use. With football TV revenues dropping it seems sensible to stage multiple sports in modern stadia. As for the view, I had an excellent view of the stadium from my seat and would have been able to see the whole of a football game without hindrance.
Gareth Evans,England

The track should definitely be saved - no doubt about it. Britain is short of quality athletics venues and drowning in football stadia! Give other sports a chance!
Kerry Dixon, UK

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