By Tom Clayton
HEADINGLEY Stadium’s new south stand was officially opened on Sunday with round five of rugby union’s Greene King IPA Championship.
Leeds’ professional rugby union side Yorkshire Carnegie were hosts to Bedford Blues as the new stand opened with brand new press and media facilities, as well as new seating in the upper tier.
The work, undertaken by Caddick Construction, has taken around a year to complete as the old north and south stands were knocked down at the end of the 2017 rugby league season in October.
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “We always had the vision for Emerald Headingley to be restored to an international sports stadium.
“It’s especially good for all the Leeds Rhinos, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Yorkshire Carnegie supporters as they will be able to come to such an iconic venue.”
In Sunday’s match, Yorkshire Carnegie – currently bottom of the Championship – faced fifth-placed Bedford Blues. The hosts came up short in an entertaining match that finished 21-28.
The £45 million stadium renovation is still in progress on the north stand.
The north stand joins onto the cricket pitch at Headingley Stadium, making this a joint venture, with Leeds Rugby and Yorkshire County Cricket Club both contributing to the redevelopment.
Work on the north stand is due to finish midway through 2019, around half way through Leeds Rhinos’ season and at the end of the Yorkshire Carnegie season.
Mr Hetherington said: “I think it’s something for the city to be proud of.
“The overall redevelopment of the stadium is an investment of £45 million between ourselves and Yorkshire CCC and will see us once again having a home we can be proud of from the summer of 2019 when all the work is complete.”
The redevelopment of the south stand has added 2,217 seats in the top tier, as well as a new press gantry at the top of the stand for television cameras and club videographers.
The plan for the south stand was to make it look similar to the Carnegie stand on the east side of the stadium and make the stadium as a whole look relatively uniform between all three major stands.
With all the redevelopment around the ground, the capacity is likely to remain similar to what it was before. The official capacity once work has been completed will be just over 21,000.