Save Oxford Stadium
It's been a few years since Cowley Stadium in Oxford held its last speedway meeting, but few have ever fully accepted that it's closed for good. The fact that the Short-track riders have been given permission to race there only adding to perception that the lack of speedway is temporary rather than permanent. However, even the most optimistic among us would have to concede defeat it the stadium was closed and subsequently demolished. Sadly, that appears to be a real possibility at present, with a housing development being proposed.
The good people of Oxford are determined to ensure this does not happen, including Council leader Bob Price who issued the following statement earlier this week:
"The City Council supports the retention of the Oxford Stadium site as a venue for greyhound racing, go-karting, fitness training and other leisure activities, and would welcome an initiative to bring back speedway racing, for which a large fan base still remains. With its first-rate facilities, the Stadium has a long-standing place in the affections of City residents, and it is regrettable that the current owners of the Stadium have not sought to build on the widespread support which it has maintained through the recent difficulties. The Council is appalled that the decision to cease operations at the Stadium was taken so close to the Christmas period and without consideration for the staff who work there. The Council's planning policy towards the site is clear; it is not included as a potential housing site in the Sites and Housing DPD, and remains a leisure and recreation site. As part of the City's leisure and recreation strategy, the Council would be happy to work with the current owners to identify an alternative operator who would be willing to continue and extend the current valuable contribution which the Stadium makes to the range of facilities that is available to the residents of Oxford and the neighbouring areas."
Labour MP Andrew Smith is also on board with plans to retain this valuable amenity:
"If we make clear to the present owners that they are not going to get housing there - not today, not tomorrow, not ever - I believe there is a real possibility of forcing the transfer of ownership to someone who will really make the most of this great local facility."
Oxford Cheetahs fan John Fray has been a strong opponent of the plans also:
"I not sure if you know the stadium, it is a really good venue not just for Speedway or Greyhound racing but for many other activities for go-karting and other local clubs: fitness, martial arts, weight lifting and dancing. We need a go ahead management, then it should be able to make money. It would be a disgrace to let the venture capitalists get their way even though housing is badly needed in Oxford. The Sandy Lane track is on the edge of what was at one time the largest council estate in the country. It is an already densely populated area and one that badly needs social and entertainment facilities which the stadium could continue to offer under different management. The site is not included in Oxford's housing planning documents and the council wishes it to remain for leisure and recreation not for housing. They really do want to have speedway back in Oxford. How many council do we know that would openly say that? We need a promoter to run some open meetings during the 2013 season."
Time is of the essence as the current owners plan to close the stadium on 29th December. John Fray describes this campaign of opposition as "the final throw of the dice" and urges us all to sign a petition that Andrew Smith MP has set up:
"The stadium has suffered for too long under the GRA regime. All of Speedway should get behind the Save Oxford Stadium campaign by signing the petition: andrewsmithonyourside.org.uk"
This article was first published on 23rd December 2012
"i have been a supporter of speedway since 1949 and have seen all the good days and all of the great speedway riders riding this superb track if it is allowed to close it will be a major loss to speedway and greyhound racing."
"Please stop the housing project and bring back Oxford Speedway"
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