CASTLEFORD Tigers’ chief Richard Wright has revealed how ambitious plans to transform the club’s ground into a supermarket could pump £150m of investment into the Five Towns and create more than 2,000 new jobs.
The Super League club boss said a proposal to sell its Wheldon Road home for a £25m “large format retail store” could provide 350 permanent operational positions and 300 construction jobs in the district – with a further 1,000 jobs created by projects sparked by the scheme.
Last month Tigers announced a pioneering deal with Opus Land (North) Ltd, which would provide all the cash needed to build its new £12m stadium in Glass Houghton if planning permission for a supermarket at the Probiz Coliseum is secured.
The Express understands the club’s 13,300-capacity new home near the Xscape leisure complex will include conferencing and banqueting facilities and could also create a further 300 employment opportunities.
Mr Wright said: “The huge investment planned for the region is going to create significant employment opportunities for local people in Castleford and across the Five Towns.
“However the sizeable capital investment and subsequent job creation is dependent upon securing planning permission in the first instance for a retail scheme at Wheldon Road.”
The club chief confirmed Opus and its financial partner Palmer Capital were in “advanced negotiations” with a number of food retailers and hoped to submit a detailed planning application for a supermarket to Wakefield Council by August.
The club already has full planning consent to build its new stadium – which it hopes will be ready for the 2013 season and secure its future in the Super League.
Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “We badly need new jobs in Castleford as well as a new stadium for the Tigers which would really boost the town. That’s why supermarket development could support the stadium and help regeneration too.
“Castleford Tigers has always worked hard to support the town. Of course planning issues need to be dealt with, but if everyone works together that should be possible.
“Done in the right way, this could bring strong benefits for rugby, for the community and for the economy too.”