Edinburgh Today

Sports Centres

1.  Football, Swimming and Athletics

2.  Sighthill

3.  Meadowbank Stadium

4.  Sighthill or Meadowbank

5.  Royal Commonwealth Pool   Who will Pay?

6.  Meadowbank Stadium



Football, Swimming and Athletics

Football and Athletics

Edinburgh's two football teams, Hibs and Hearts, recently announced [June 03] that they were considering  moving, from their Easter Road and Tynecastle grounds, to a new shared stadium.

Several possible sites for the stadium are being considered, including Straiton close to the City by-pass to the south-east of Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Councillors are keen to discuss such a move, as it  might enable a large new sports complex to be created in the area, to replace Meadowbank  Stadium, built for the Commonwealth Games in 1970.

[Edinburgh Evening News  28 June 2003, pp. 1, 5]

Swimming and Athletics

On 11 March 2004, Edinburgh Council announced £109m plans  to:

-  revamp the Royal Commonwealth Pool

-  replace Meadowbank Stadium  with a new athletics complex at Sighthill Park.

-  replace Jack Kane Centre at Craigmillar with a new centre to include football, a velodrome and curling.

Both Meadowbank Stadium and the Royal Commonwealth Pool were built for the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970.  It is hoped that the new sporting facilities will be in place by 2010, and that Edinburgh and Glasgow will be able to make a joint bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Edinburgh Evening News  11 March 2004, pp. 1, 4, 5

Swimming Baths

Three of Edinburgh's Victorian swimming pools have already been refurbished.  They are Dalry, Leith and Portobello.

On 24 March 2004, Edinburgh Council announced plans to refurbish other two Victorian swimming pools in Edinburgh, at a total cost of £4m.

Warrender: to include new gyms, pool surrounds and changing rooms.

Glenogle: to include extended gym, new fitness studio, new steam room and sauna.

Edinburgh Evening News  24 March 2004, p.17


UPDATE - 2007

Edinburgh Council has discovered that restoration costs for Glenogle Baths might amount to £4m, about twice the funds available for the project.

The council is now considering selling off the baths for housing, to a  builder who would build a modern leisure complex on the neighbouring open ground as part of the deal.

The council has been criticised for short-term opportunism.  Amongst fears that the council is about to agree a deal in the near future, and the old baths would be lost, a 'Save Glenogle Baths' campaign was set up in March 07.

Edinburgh Evening News:  March 2, 2007, p.22

Edinburgh Evening News  14 March 2007, p.21





A New Stadium?

Edinburgh council have announced plans to create a new 6,000 seat athletics and rugby stadium at Sighthill  in the west of Edinburgh, to replace Meadowbank stadium.   Two grass sports pitches, an all-weather sports pitch, two sports halls, a gymnastics hall and an indoor running track are also proposed.

As part of this £86m project, the council also proposes to overhaul the Commonwealth Pool.

It is planned that facilities at Meadowbank Stadium will be cut back, and that some of the land at Meadowbank will be sold for housing, so providing cash towards the Sighthill and Commonwealth Pool projects.

It is envisaged that work on the Commonwealth Pool would be completed in 2010, ahead of the London Olympic Games in 2012 and the possible Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, and that work on the stadium at Sighthill would be completed in 2011.

Detailed planning proposals have still to be submitted.

Edinburgh Evening News  January 26, 2007, pp.1,5

New Stadium now Unlikely

Following the Local Government election results last month, attitudes towards the proposed Sighthill Stadium appear to have changed.

The Liberal Democrat / SNP coalition seems less enthusiastic about creating a new stadium at Sighthill, and  Edinburgh's new planning leader, Councillor Jim Lowrie, speaking in a personal capacity, is reported to have described the Sighthill scheme as "a white elephant" and as "dead in the water" following protests from Sighthill residents.

Edinburgh Evening News  June 11, 2007, pp.1,5

New Stadium Possible?

Despite the personal comments made by planning leader, Jim Lowrie, 6 weeks ago, about the plans for an arena at Sighthill being  "dead in the water", there now again seems to be some prospect of new athletics and rugby grounds being built there.

Council leader, Jenny Dawe says that the council cannot afford to refurbish both the Royal Commonwealth Pool and Meadowbank, so Sighthill may be the only option available for Edinburgh to get the up-to-date sports facilities that it needs.

Edinburgh Evening News  July 23, 2007, p.5

Sighthill now Unlikely Again!

The final report of the independent task force appointed  by Edinburgh council has now been published, and council leader, Jenny Dawe has made a further statement.

See 4. below

Edinburgh Evening News  July 23, 2007, p.5





April 2007

Protests against Demolition

Following a 'Save Meadowbank Stadium' campaign signed by 6,000 people, Edinburgh Council is to set up a special taskforce to reconsider its approach to Meadowbank Stadium.

The council now believes that it may be possible to keep the running track and  build a new indoor sporting centre in place of the existing main stand, without reducing the number of homes to be built on the site.

Edinburgh Evening News  April 19, 2007, pp.1,5


Poll Favours Meadowbank Demolition

Despite local opposition to the demolition of Meadowbank, Edinburgh Council claims that a clear majority of people favour the council's plans to sell off Meadowbank to help cover the cost of work at Sighthill and the Commonwealth Pool.

These results are based on a poll commissioned by the council and carried out recently by Mori.  501 people participated.

Edinburgh Evening News  April 30, 2007, p.6


May 2007

Poll Opposes Meadowbank Demolition

However, the Edinburgh Evening News reported on, May 9, that the newspaper had carried out its own poll amongst 373 readers and had found that 78.3% were opposed to the council's plans to sell Meadowbank.

Edinburgh Evening News  May 9, 2007, p.10

August 2007

Taskforce Favours Meadowbank Demolition

An draft report from the independent taskforce set up by the council concludes that any attempted refurbishment of Meadowbank would be "short-term and short-sighted".

The taskforce, chaired by the former Meadowbank Thistle manager and Musselburgh Grammar School head teacher Terry Christie, favours the building of a new £53m stadium at Sighthill.

The only way to meet this cost may be to sell the land at Meadowbank for housing.

Edinburgh Evening News  August 3, 2007, p.5

Options for Meadowbank

Edinburgh Council is to appoint independent consultants to consider:

-  how the facilities at Meadowbank might be upgraded, and at what cost? (Estimated costs for refurbishing are believed to be about £30-45m.)

-  if land at Meadowbank could be sold to fund the building of new sports facilities.

Edinburgh Evening News  August 24, 2007, pp.6-7


December 2007

Only Minor Improvements Proposed

A report on the future of Meadowbank Stadium, due to be released next week, is expected to recommend that only minor improvements to the site, mainly to comply with health and safety requirements, should be made in the short- term.

Edinburgh Council has agreed to retain the running track and sports complex at Meadowbank, but it is expected that some of the site will be sold for housing to help finance the £36m of the Royal Commonwealth Pool which is to host the diving competition for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Estimated costs for a full refurbishment or rebuild of Meadowbank on its present site have varied between £30m and £45m.

Edinburgh Evening News  December 13, 2007


January 2008

Greyhound Racing and Speedway?

David Welsh, former chairman of Powderhall Greyhound Owners' Association has announced that he is due to meet the council's culture and leisure committee to discuss the possibility of bringing greyhound racing and speedway to Meadowbank. 

He claims that there is enough room round the perimeter of the existing athletics track to build a suitable circuit.  Powderhall Stadium, which hosted greyhound racing and speedway in Edinburgh opened in 1927 but closed in the mid-1990s.

Plans were lodged in 1998 to build a new greyhound racing stadium near Wallyford in East Lothian, but none has been built, and campaigners have objected to any new greyhound stadium being built on grounds of welfare.

Edinburgh Evening News  January 31 2008:  p.3.


March 2008

Mini-Meadowbank Proposed

Detailed plans were announced today.  These propose:

-  selling 8.5 acres (one-third of the current site) on the west of the site, for housing.  This is where the existing stadium is situated.  There would not be enough room on the remainder of the site to retain the velodrome.

-  demolishing the current 16,500 spectator stadium, and building a new  5,000-seat stadium with indoor athletics facilities and sports courts, at a cost of £25m.

Officials say that:

-   a full upgrade of the facilities at Meadowbank would cost £42.7m.

-  providing the same facilities at Meadowbank as had been proposed for Sighthill would cost £57.9m.

Edinburgh Evening News  March 11, 2008:  p.7.


Mini-Meadowbank Approved

Councillors have voted in favour of the above proposals, despite protests from some councillors and the 'Save Meadowbank' campaign.  Councillors will now enter a period of consultation.

Edinburgh Evening News  March 14, 2008:  p.2.

June 2008

Detailed Plans

Edinburgh Council has now released detailed proposals for Meadowbank, but stresses that no final decision has yet been made.  They hope that the new facilities will be available before the 1014 Commonwealth Games.

Proposals include:

-  a central athletics stadium, positioned about 500 ft to the east of where the existing stadium stands.

-  three 7-a-side synthetic football pitches (on the site of the existing velodrome).

-  16 indoor sports courts and two multi-purpose facilities.

-   an indoor 'street' with Café and children's facilities.

-  a fitness centre, gym and indoor athletics track.

It is expected that land to the west of the track can be sold for approx £17m.

Edinburgh Evening News  March 11, 2008:  p.7.


November 2008

Plan Delayed

Edinburgh councillors are to be asked to support a proposal that the redevelopment of Meadowbank should be delayed until the economic situation improves and land values rise again.

It had been expected that the stadium would close in early-2011, and that construction of the new facilities would take two years.  However, these proposals assumed that the council would earn £17m from the sale of 8.5 acres of the Meadowbank site.  It is now believed that the land to be sold is worth nowhere near £17m.

Edinburgh Evening News  November 13, 2008:  p.5.


March 2009

Short-term Proposals

It is now proposed to spend £1.45m to pay for essential work to be carried out, between now and 2012.  Most of the cash will be allocated to track resurfacing.

Earlier proposals to sell part of the land and create a new stadium at Meadowbank have not been able to proceed.  It was estimated, in November 2008, that the sale of part of the site might raise only about £5m for the council, rather than £17m that had previously been expected.

Edinburgh Evening News  March 28, 2009:  p.2.




Sighthill or Meadowbank

Taskforce Report

The report from the independent taskforce set up by the council was published today. 

It concludes that even if most of the Meadowbank site were to be sold for housing, the council would still face a shortfall of £30m in their plans to refurbish the Royal Commonwealth Pool and to create the new Sports Centre envisaged for Sighthill.

The report sees the best option as being:

"to create brand new facilities at Meadowbank as it is by far the best location".

However, it acknowledges the funding difficulties of either doing this or creating the new sports centre envisaged for Sighthill.

Council Leader's Comments

Council Leader, Jenny Dawes, says that the council would be likely to pursue a "compromise" option which would involve selling most of the Meadowbank site for housing, but relocating the running track and indoor sports complex to the eastern part of the site.

She added:

"It is obvious that we need to do a lot more work before we can take any kind of final decision.  We are obviously going to have to go back to sportscotland to see if any funding would be available for a development at Meadowbank."

Edinburgh Evening News  August 12, 2007, p.5



Royal Commonwealth Pool

August / September 2007


 Edinburgh wishes to create:

-   an Olympic-standard 8-lane 50 metre pool and diving area.

-   an expanded gym and redesigned changing areas.

-   new 'soft play' facilities.

It is proposed that the pool will be used as an official training camp for the London 2012 Olympic Games, then for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 if Glasgow's bid for these games is successful.

The diving area would  also be used for diving competitions in the 2014 Commonwealth Games if Glasgow's bid for the games is successful.

How will the cost be met?

The cost of refurbishing the Royal Commonwealth Pool has risen by £7m to £36m in under two years.   Edinburgh Council has only set aside £29m for the refurbishment, and that includes £7m expected from the sale of much of the Meadowbank Stadium site.

However, that sale  of Meadowbank to finance the work at the Royal Commonwealth Pool will not go ahead in the immediate future, because Edinburgh Council recently agreed to appoint independent consultants to look at a range of options for the Meadowbank site.

So the only viable option to fund the Royal Commonwealth Pool refurbishment appears to be for Edinburgh Council to seek funding from the  Scottish Government or from sportscotland.

Edinburgh Evening News  August 12, 2007, p.5  (Commonwealth Pool)

Edinburgh Evening News  August 30, 2007, p.6  (Meadowbank Stadium)

Edinburgh Evening News  September 10, 2007, p.9  (Commonwealth Pool)

April 2008

Scottish Government Contribution

The Scottish Government has agreed to increase its contribution towards the refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool from £4m to £5m.  The overall cost of the refurbishment is expected to be £37m.

It is hoped that this will enable refurbishment of the pool to go ahead, to provide:

-  a 50-meter 8-lane pool

-  a 25-meter pool

-  new soft play facilities

-  an expanded gym

-  redesigned changing areas

The pool is due to host the diving events in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Edinburgh Evening News April 18, 2008, p.25

July 2008

Funding Secured

A £5m grant from Sportscotland has enabled refurbishment work to go ahead at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.  The Council will also sell car parks and Leith Waterworld to help to meet the cost of the refurbishment.

This refurbishment  will include

-  extending the 50-meter pool by 1.5 meters and installing a boom to allow it to be split into two 25m pools.

-  overhauling the diving area to provide 4 platforms, up to 10m high, two temporary springboards and a 'dry dive' training area with trampolines and harnesses.

-   three dance studios and a new gym (but the sauna will be lost).

-   a changing 'village' with better facilities.

-   a new dry play area for children.

-   poolside showers and heated benches beside the pool.

-   a revamped 900-seat spectator area.

-   a revamped Café.

The pool is expected to close for two years, beginning in June 2009. for refurbishment.

Edinburgh Evening News July 14, 2008, p.5



Meadowbank Stadium

Cost to Refurbish

 Edinburgh Council is still awaiting a report from independent consultants looking into the options for the Meadowbank Site.

However, a separate report published in October 2007 has estimated the cost of a full refurbishment of Meadowbank to be £39m (including £14m sports centre, £13m grandstand, £11m velodrome).

The 'Save Meadowbank' campaign had estimated that the facilities could be brought up to scratch for £18m.

Edinburgh Evening News:  October 9, 2007:  p.9



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