Jon Jerrome feels the only way Bristol Rovers can move forward is if the UWE stadium is approved.
Uni stadium would provide real boost
After years of proposals and false dawns, excitement has gripped North Bristol with the publication of the latest developments for the proposed 20,000 UWE Stadium which will be located on the outskirts of the city.
Having returned to Bristol in 1996 following a spell at Bath's Twerton Park, the Memorial Stadium has become our adopted home and been embraced by Gasheads who have witnessed many momentous moments in BS7. However whilst the return to our home city was welcomed by all associated with the club, many have watched on in envy as the likes of Swansea, Hull and Brighton have accelerated up the football ladder following moves to new stadiums.
With a wider population of over 500,000, Bristol remains a hotbed of footballing potential despite years of underachievement, underinvestment and lack of support from the local council. Developments with Bristol City's proposed new stadium at Ashton Vale have further served to illustrate the ambition of the city and the determination to lead a geographical shift. Make no mistake, the region can more than cater for two successful football clubs and plans for the UWE Stadium are at the forefront of our determination to put our club on the map.
The 35,000 plus fans who visited Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and Wembley back in 2007 demonstrate the support exists but has yet to be drawn to the club on a regular basis due to inadequate facilities and the poor performance of the team on the field. However the proposed move represents a real chance to generate momentum and attract a calibre of player that can finally make the match day experience appeal to the masses.
Having reported losses of almost £2 million last season, pressure is on the board to develop new revenue streams that can create a bright and sustainable future for the club. It appears that the UWE Stadium would offer just that, and by entering in to an agreement with the University of the West of England, Bristol Rovers would be making history by being the first British club playing home games on a University campus. The partnership would be unique and ultimately mutually beneficial to both parties.
Whilst sceptics will point to the various failed proposals which have blighted our development over recent decades, there appears to be a real substance behind the current plan and a determination by all involved to make the dream finally become a reality. The anticipation for this new and exciting chapter in the club's history has been further increased by the new images of the development which reveal a mouth watering a stadium which promises to propel the club in to the 21st century.
It's fair to say that the video screens and luxury seating are a far cry from the temporary stands and poor facilities at the Memorial Stadium which has firmly established itself as one of the least glamorous of grounds for visiting supporters. And although many would miss the reassuring feeling of watching the match day drama unfold on wet and windy terrace, the chance to see the blue and white quarters light up a modern purpose built arena would be something very special.
Should planning permission be granted and the finances put in place, the days of standing in the rain will be confined to the past and replaced by a new exciting era which will change our club forever.