THE Swindon Robins Speedway team will have a £5m new home in 2016 after plans for a new stadium were announced yesterday.

Work could start as early as May on the new venue, which will not only have new facilities for the riders but is being designed so it is ideal for television companies to broadcast events. It will be built next to the existing Abbey Stadium, built in 1949, which will then be demolished.

Greyhound racing will also take place at the new venue.

Clarke Osbourne, of Gaming International which owns the land, says while it has taken time to get to this point the end result will be worth the wait.

He said: “The recession was very much like this eclipse for us. For a period it looked very dark but it has now brightened up.

“We are delighted to have got to this stage. We had planning permission a number of years ago but it was all held up by the recession.

“There was certainly a time when things really looked as though they weren’t going to happen but the support we’ve had from the local community and MP have been great.

“If everything goes to plan we would hope to start work in 10 weeks so everything will be ready for next season.

“We have designed it so it will be for TV.

“A lot of people say this but it really will be state-of-the-art. There will be camera positions built in and the latest LED floodlights.

“It will be somewhere which is not only convenient but also cheap for television companies.”

Clarke says there will be some disruption during the building period but every effort will be made to keep it to a minimum.

When built, the new stadium will hold around 2,500 people, similar to the current level but it will have the facilities to hold functions every day of the week, thereby increasing the revenue generated.

The stadium will also incorporate space for local charities and youth groups to use and the market will be retained.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson campaigned to save the stadium back in 2008 when he was a borough councillor.

He said: “This is an immensely proud moment for me.

“I led the campaign in 2008 to save the stadium so it is fantastic for the local community and the speedway fans.

“I am delighted that after many years these plans have now come forward. This is really good news.

“The pressure is now on for Alun and his team to have a really strong final season.”


Let’s give old stadium a send-off in style

THE announcement of the new stadium has created mixed feelings for Swindon Robins and Great Britain manager Alun Rossiter, who has a long history with the Abbey.

He is delighted the sport is about to get a huge shot in the arm with new facilities but will miss the venue he has been coming to since he was a small child.

“I am over the moon at the moment,” he said. “I started as a mascot here in 1969 and then rode for the team, captained the team and am now the manager, so this is a really big day.

“This stadium was built in 1949 so there is a touch of sadness but we have to move forward. The track is fine but if you look at the rest of it, things are very run down. Unfortunately, you do have to move with the times and on to bigger and better things.

The stadium will stand in the middle of a new housing development and many of the streets will be named after former riders.

Alun says it shows how important the stadium is to the town and believes it will bring in many benefits.

He said “These are really exciting times for Speedway and the whole of Swindon. Having a brand new facility is something which will lift everyone.

“We have had some really good support from the local MP and I don’t think this would have happened without him.

“What we have to do now is make sure we send the Abbey off with style.”