Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting DN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Speedway is coming home
HEATHENS speedway could finally return to the Dudley borough with a track located in the heart of the town.
After months of speculation the News can today reveal ambitious plans for a multi-million pound stadium located at the flagship junction of Castle Hill and Tipton Road – next to Dudley Zoo and the Black Country Living Museum – which would bring to an end the club’s near two-decade exile from the borough.
Under the proposals, the Heathens would share thenewfacility with Gornal Athletic Football Club,who would fund the construction by selling their Garden Walk home for housing.
Heathens chairman Nigel Pearson revealed the clubs have been in discussions for more than a year and plans are at an advanced stage, with Dudley Council also involved.
An outline proposal, seen by the News, was submitted to the council last October. Planning applications are expected to follow later in the summer should the sale of the football club ground go through.
MrPearson said: “We became aware Gornal were looking to move to take their club forward and it seemed an ideal situation.
“Gornal have the financial clout to build a stadium but they don’t have the fanbase. We do have the fanbase.
“Since then we have had a succession of meetings and met with the council. Everybody we have spoken to about the scheme has liked it.
“Architects’ plans are already in place, though we are still at the stage where Gornal need to complete the sale of their ground. Once that happens we can kick on.”
Today’s revelations will excite fans who have longed for speedway to return to the borough from the moment Cradley Heathens saw their Dudley Wood home sold for housing in 1995.
Since reforming under the name Dudley Heathens two years ago, they have averaged gates of around 1,000 at Wolverhampton’s Monmore Green track and attendances are expected to at least double should the club get its desired move home.
Gornal, who would be landlords of the new stadium, view the move as a chance to increase their supporter base and grow the club in a town which has been without a football venue since the closure of Dudley Town’s Castle Gate ground in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, the new stadium would give the Heathens the chance to move up to the Premier League, with the ambition to eventually restore the club to the top level of the sport.
Urging Dudley Council to back the scheme, Mr Pearson added: “This is an opportunity to bring a major sporting venue to the town and to bring back one of its most high-profile sports teams – a name which became famous throughout the world.
“It’s the councils chance to help bring us home.”