Stadium could be put on Avon Street car park
Should the Recreation Ground in Bath be the site of a larger, permanent Bath Rugby stadium? On balance, I believe not. I'd like to propose a positive alternative.
The Recreation Ground was given to the people of Bath to be enjoyed for ever by all the people of Bath, not just we rugby fans. It is right that Bathonians enjoy it as a green space open to all, not dedicated exclusively to some.
As an open area it can be enjoyed directly. It also serves as a 'green lung' in the centre of the city, promoting greater well-being and quality of life. As an urban green space on the other side of the River Avon opposite the abbey and Parade Gardens it would reflect and complement one of the most important views we have in this World Heritage city.
This is not the case now. The view is interrupted by the shed-like back of the spectator stand, as is even more apparent now the undergrowth has been cleared. It is not the most attractive complement to the grandeur of our abbey.
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It's difficult to quantify these factors economically, which is a criticism of economics not a reflection of their merits. The same applies to the argument that a new stadium on the Rec is necessary to maximise the economic return to the city.
If that is the primary criterion, then should we not build a 50-storey tower dedicated to financial services on the Rec instead, generating a far greater monetary benefit to our local economy?
But let's be positive and consider how else we might retain the Rec and keep Bath Rugby in the city centre, and improve the facilities available to all residents.
As my montage shows, it would be possible to replace the Avon Street car park with a stadium. It would require redirecting Green Park Road to link directly with Corn Street through the present coach park. If coach and car parking is desirable, both on match days and at other times, a multi-storey car and coach park with similar capacity could be constructed along the river next to the stadium.
The stadium design would have to be innovative to provide the desired corporate entertainment facilities on a limited footprint. It might involve a reduced capacity and height on the side facing the river, as at Dublin's Lansdowne Road, but a competent architect should be able to accommodate these requirements. The Avon stadium itself could also serve as a home for football, summer sports and as a concert venue, to maximise revenue.
Of course it will all come down to money. But the scale of the investment need not be prohibitively greater than the cost of building a new stadium on the Rec. All it takes is a little vision from Bath Rugby, the Rec Trustees, the council and the people of Bath.
PHILIP C JAMES Gloucester Road, Bath