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Edinburgh hope to reap benefit of £5m stadium

 

By Robert Jones

Edinburgh are ready to copy Glasgow's recipe for success after announcing plans for a new £5million stadium in the shadow of BT Murrayfield.

The capital outfit have found it difficult to keep up with the Warriors since they made their successful switch to Scotstoun in 2012.

But they now believe a new purpose-built 7,800-capacity venue on the back pitches at Murrayfield could now offer the room they need to grow.

The club have operated under a nomadic existence since joining the professional ranks in 1996.

Murrayfield has been their main base but the cavernous 67,000-seater bowl has proven impossible to fill, while moves to Easter Road and more recently Myreside failed to work out.

But Jonny Petrie, Edinburgh's managing director, hopes the new semi-permanent structure, which will include four permanent stands as well as a 3G pitch, will be the perfect fit.

Plans have been lodged with the City of Edinburgh Council and it is hoped they could be ready to move into their new home for the 2019-20 season.

"We've seen a huge transformation with the way the team has performed under Richard Cockerill's guidance and this is really the next step on that evolution for us," said Petrie, who has also announced a re-branding of the club that will see it adopt the traditional dark blue colours of the original Edinburgh District side as well as a new club badge.

"It's been a question that has been on the table for such a long time for Edinburgh. So we're delighted to be in a position now where we can look to answer that by setting out a home for the club to really develop on and off the field.

"In performance terms, it's been great for us this year to win the 1872 Cup and in many respects we matched Glasgow.

"We've made huge strides and have closed the gap.

"This is not about giving us an edge on Glasgow, but we have looked at the model developed through at Scotstoun. They have crowds of more than 7,000 week in, week out and are selling out.

"But we know we have the potential to come alongside that.

"We have the team doing that on the field, we're creating the best environment for that to happen and we want people to get behind that."

The back pitches have previously been used as a training base by Scotland and Edinburgh.

But with Gregor Townsend's national team now using the Oriam training facility at Heriot-Watt University, Scottish chiefs are happy to make the site available to Edinburgh.

And they are also open to the new venue being used for football, with talks with the Scottish Football Association over the possibility of staging youth and women's internationals as well as Edinburgh City FC in the offing.

SRU chief operating officer Dominic McKay - who is also hoping to persuade SFA chiefs to switch major football internationals and cup finals to the main Murrayfield arena - said: "We want to make sure that not only Edinburgh Rugby use this facility but other sports. We think this will be great for rugby but also sport in Scotland.

"We have an outstanding facility at BT Murrayfield. By having a new purpose-built 7,800-seater venue, that adds weight to our bid for games from the SFA."

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