Edinburgh Rugby managing director Jonny Petrie is confident local concerns over the proposed move to Myreside can be assuaged and the trial period can be a success that sees the club start to build a new home at the Watsonians ground.
The club held a public exhibition as part of the consultation phase at Myreside Pavilion yesterday evening which gave locals the chance to see details of how the initial six-month partnership with George Watson’s College would work.
The main aim was to convince residents that plans were in place to minimise disruption in terms of transport and traffic, frequency of matches and the design and placement of temporary stands.
Petrie was also keen to emphasise that no agreement was in place beyond the initial pilot, which will run from 7 January 2017 to the end of the season with a total of six home games, and any extension to the deal was reliant on both the community and the club being satisfied at the end of the trial period.
Petrie said: “There’s obviously a feeling from me, our supporters and a great deal of the local community that this is the right thing for us as a club. It reconnects us to the heritage of rugby in Edinburgh.
“It’s a ground that I’ve played at in front of big crowds in the past and it’s a fantastic place to play.
“From the club’s perspective this is the right thing. The problems around us playing at BT Murrayfield are pretty well documented so I’m not going to go back into that. I get that there are local sensitivities and some people are worried what it might bring to the area.
“What we are trying to do with this consultation process, as we have been doing already pro-actively with local residents and will continue to do so with review groups over the next six to 12 months, is show them that I’m listening, acting and amending to their feedback.”
The temporary stands will be at both ends of the ground and have been reduced in size and repositioned further forward, reducing the generous dead ball area, after feedback from neighbours.
The South Stand will have 1,984 seats, with 866 in the North Stand and 1,961 in the established Main Stand, with pitchside terraced standing room opposite. A park-and-ride with a capacity for 250-300 cars at Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus is viewed as one solution to the limited parking in the area.
“I think for the trial period it’s important to recognise that it’s not every Friday night we’re going to be playing here,” added Petrie.
“It’s two matches in January and then one a month through to May. But when it is match night we need to do things that will draw traffic away from the area.
“Things like providing park-and-ride, bus and walking routes. People will have to do things slightly differently to how they would get to Murrayfield.
“What I need to try and balance is the needs of the local community and the impact on them but also our supporters who want this to be accessible.
“Many of them are more in walking distance to Myreside than Murrayfield anyway.
“The only commitment is for the six-month period. There is nothing in place beyond that. If it is a success then would we want to be in place for season 2017-18? Yes, beyond as well, but that is all on the basis of a successful pilot.”