Murray's vision sees Hearts share venue with rugby side

HEARTS and Edinburgh Rugby would move into a new 25,000-seat stadium in the west of the city under ambitious proposals by Rangers supremo Sir David Murray's property company.

Murray Estates wants to build a massive multi-use sports stadium on green belt land near Edinburgh Park and the company has launched talks with both Hearts and Edinburgh Rugby.

It has taken inspiration from Liberty Stadium in Wales, which English Championship football side Swansea City share with Magners League rugby side Ospreys.

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The stadium is part of a massive 1 billion masterplan currently being drawn up for "Edinburgh's Garden District" - a 600-acre site between Edinburgh Park and the headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland that would also feature 3500 homes and a new visitor attraction called The Calyx, which is seen as Scotland's answer to the Eden Project.

A week-long series of workshops was today set to get under way with community groups, developers and businesses where more detailed plans will be drawn up.

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Officials from both Hearts and Edinburgh Rugby are expected to represent the clubs at a discussion on Thursday about the plans for a stadium.

The extent of Hearts' interest in the proposal is not yet known, although any move would likely face heavy opposition from fans, who fought previous plans to move the club to Murrayfield Stadium.

Vladimir Romanov has also always opposed any plans to move away from Tynecastle but plans for an extension of the stadium have still not progressed nearly three years after they were first announced.

Jestyn Davies, managing director of Murray Estates, said: "There is a sporting deficit in Edinburgh and we believe there could be a regional stadium within this site.

"We are speaking to Edinburgh Rugby about this and there is another major football club in the west of the city that may be interested."

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When asked if he felt a shared stadium would benefit Hearts and Edinburgh Rugby, he said: "What we would suggest is that you look to Swansea, where Swansea City and the Ospreys co-exist in one stadium. It can also bring considerable savings."

A series of workshops and discussion meetings will be held at Murrayfield, with the plans being updated and adapted depending on feedback. It culminates in a closing presentation at Edinburgh College of Art next Wednesday.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Rugby said: "Representatives of Scottish Rugby will be present to learn more about the proposals. We will monitor the situation closely."

Nobody at Hearts was available to comment.