Mark Arthur is hoping the new Emerald Stand at Emerald Headingley proves to be “an iconic building for Leeds” after the redevelopment reached a landmark stage today.
The final roof truss was lifted into position on the cricket ground side of the stand, giving onlookers a significant picture of how Headingley will look ahead of next summer’s World Cup and Ashes Test.
Yorkshire’s chief executive spoke with great pride and delight at the progress made in partnership with Leeds Rhinos Rugby League club.
Arthur said: “I have to pinch myself as to where we were a couple of years ago. We had nothing in place except for a pipe dream.
“We knew we had to do something in order retain international cricket here and to stage the 2019 ICC World Cup. The tremendous support from the Emerald Group and Leeds City Council enabled us to get into this position.
“I think people will see this as an iconic building for Leeds, and with the coverage both sports get on an international sphere, there’s no doubt that it will promote everything to do with the Leeds city region.
“The fit out will be five-star.
“It’s quite eye-watering how much we’re going to be spending on it.
“But if you are going to portray yourself as one of the best venues in the region, it’s important you leave no stone unturned in your quest to do so.
“Working with the designers, the architects and Caddick Construction, that is what we’re setting out to do, and I’m sure we’ll be successful.
“There has been minimal disruption for the spectators really; rugby have had to reduce their capacity, as have we for international matches and for the Vitality Blast against Lancashire. But that’s a small price to pay for what we’re eventually going to get.
“The complexity of the construction is probably something that most people don’t understand.
“It’s a stand which has two faces to it, and the rugby side is very different to the cricket side with only the Emerald Suite separating the two.
“The difference in depth between the two grounds, which they’ve had to contend with, has had its challenges, and the size of the foot print that they’re operating in also.
“For those of us lucky enough to work here during the construction period, it’s been quite amazing to see how they’ve brought all the steel and concrete in, with one lorry arriving straight after another. It has been absolutely seamless, and full credit to the entire team that have been working on this project.
“We see it changing on a daily basis, and the changes are often not significant. But when people haven’t been for two or three weeks, they can’t believe the change.
“People coming now with the super structure in place can’t believe the enormity of the change and what it will deliver for the spectators in the future.
“Upon completion, it will be a complete sense of pride.
“It shows what you can do through collaboration from the city of Leeds and the England and Wales Cricket Board in their help, support and guidance to achieve this.
“We’ve generated the cash ourselves, and we haven’t had any help from anyone else.
“I think that’s someone everybody can take credit for that we managed to find a solution to make this happen without taking any money out of the public purse.”
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said:”It is an exciting time in the stadium redevelopment and a significant day because we have seen the final part of the roof that is covering the cricket round installed, and that will be completed on the rugby side next week.
“We have also seen the linking of the main stand to the Pavilion, which is the first time since 1890 that the Pavilion and the stand have been linked. So that’s significant in itself.
“From a construction point of view, the amount of work and time and effort that has gone into it, it’s a significant day. But I think historically for both Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos it’s very significant.
“We’ve got a great working relationship with Yorkshire.
“It is of course a joint venture, and all our staff and management are working really well together.
“The structure has been constructed by Caddick Construction, and they are doing a great job. It is an example of real team work between the cricket club, the rugby club and our construction partners.
“We always hoped for and envisaged the vision for Emerald Headingley to be restored to an international sports stadium.
“It’s great for the city, and of course Leeds City Council have played a key role as well. But it’s especially good for all the Leeds Rhinos, Yorkshire County Cricket and Yorkshire Carnegie supporters, that they will be able to come to such an iconic venue.
“Hopefully we start staging international games again in the future, especially the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, and we would hope to get a Rugby Union representative match too.
“I think it’s something for the city to be proud of and the fans.”