IT’S an idea we’ve heard enthusiastically promoted again and again down the years. Every so often, politicians or developers will propose the building of a national sports arena somewhere between Edinburgh and Glasgow. We can certainly understand the appeal of such a proposal. Who wouldn’t like to see a state-of-the-art stadium? Who doesn’t like exciting new things?
The latest individual to suggest a new national stadium is Paul Bush, respected head of the Scottish Government’s EventScotland agency for the last decade. Bush says a 60,000-seat weather-proofed venue might emulate the success of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where some of the UK’s biggest events are staged.
Bush, who played key roles in the staging of both the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games in recent years, warns that both Hampden and Murrayfield are “ageing” facilities which will need “significant investment” simply to remain viable.
But the fact is that any stadium – even a shiny new national one – requires constant upkeep. Hampden and Murrayfield may need work but so, soon, would a new venue.
And what of the impact on the great stadia of Glasgow and Edinburgh? The emergence of a new national stadium would surely mean the threat of closure for both Hampden and Murrayfield. We’re not convinced that would be good news for the economies of either of Scotland’s largest cities.
Scotland’s road network is currently being tested to its limits by the closure of the Forth Road Bridge. We can see clearly that our motorways are not capable of easily carrying the volume of traffic they are expected to.
So not only would a new stadium require massive investment to build it, but further development of roads across the country would also be necessary.
We are certainly in favour of better, safer roads, but their creation as an afterthought to the building of a new sports ground would be to misunderstand Scotland’s priorities.
Every time a new stadium in the centre of Scotland has been suggested, the case against has soon become apparent.
We expect that to be the case on this occasion too.