Exciting news – a stairway to heaven…Cowshed leisure – keeping it in the family

There’s a sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure
’cause you know words sometimes have two meanings
All together now, ’cause you know words sometimes have two meanings

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
All together now, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven

Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven

In yesterday’s post I mentioned I’d heard rumour that Coventry Rugby could be about to begin the second phase of the new build as early as next March.

It was, and still is, very much speculation on my part BUT the likelihood of that happening has increased somewhat with Chairman Jon Sharp’s comment on the official website today (the 26th).

Speaking to Chris Wearmouth about the increased usage of the Butts Park Arena since the installation of the synthetic surface, he also added something of a teaser:

…it has also enabled us to move quickly with our plans for the future, and we will be able to make some exciting announcements in the next few weeks that will solidify Butts Park’s status as a hub for sports and activities for the whole of the city’s community.

Just what those ‘exciting announcements’ are is clearly open to all sorts of speculation but the comments certainly don’t do anything to lessen the possibility of a major redevelopment of the BPA in the not too distant future.

There’s every chance that I’m going to be left looking even more of an idiot than usual, but unless anyone can come up with a better suggestion as to what JS is referring to, I’m sticking with the new build.

Whatever the announcement, it seems as if it will be a major one, one that looks certain to raise Cov’s profile even further in the coming months.

In light of the above, this seems a particularly apposite time to revisit the plans for the redevelopment of the BPA, plans which have been in the public domain for a good 18 months or so now.

Back in April 2018, Jon Sharp spoke at a Fans’ Forum (is it me or do they seem to have died a death) about the club’s plans for a new stadium. During the meeting he mentioned that, most likely, development of the ground would be over three main phases:

  1. An artificial surface at a cost of £1.5m, to include low level lighting and an irrigation system. (There would also need to be additional changing rooms including those for women, children and the disabled);
  2.  At the railway end a second stand would be built, to include additional bar and hospitality areas;
  3. A larger stand at the city end would then be erected to also incorporate perhaps a hotel and/or apartments (and shops, I think?).

JS also presented supporters with a couple of images that were at the ‘extreme’ end of the architects’ plans, but given they were part of a very glossy, but professionally produced, brochure it seems likely the designs are the Board’s preferred option.

BPA 2

BPA1

Whilst the rumour of a March start for the plans is still very much that, a rumour, I’ve heard nothing to suggest that they have changed significantly, so if there is to be a build, it might well be that in another 18 months to two years the BPA could look something close to these artists’ impressions.

I can’t recall what the proposed capacity of the ground is once the ground alterations are complete, but…

…if the Board is prepared to develop the ground as these images suggest, is it really going to be content to remain a Championship side, whatever the concerns of some of its supporters? (Concerns which I should add are perfectly reasonable ones}.

These are surely premier designs for a Premiership club, a club gearing up for a promotion push in 2 or 3 seasons time?

Whilst Wasps currently benefit from the relative comfort of The Ricoh, a new build on this scale is going to be a real pull for those fans who want to see Premiership rugby (if and when we get there!) but who aren’t Wasps supporters at heart. Provided, of course, match day tickets are sensibly priced.

Exciting news…the sign on the wall, maybe?

Jon Sharp and the Board at Cov Rugby are in the process of building a stairway.

A stairway to heaven, perhaps?

Metaphorically speaking, of course,

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 Now here’s an interesting thought…

…Cov announced last Friday that:

‘The club has also agreed a new commercial partnership with an organisation to provide our new Cowshed leisurewear range. A number of items from the new range will be available in the club store when we play Ampthill on the 30th November…’

Is the name of the new brand a clue, intentional or otherwise, of just what these exciting announcements might be? JS has promised from the onset that any new build would incorporate a section for supporters to stand and that it would be named ‘The Cowshed’, a reminder of the original stand back in the days of Coundon Road.

Hardly a conspiracy theory I know, but maybe the naming of the new leisurewear is linked to a possible new build later in the year?

Just sayin’.

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Last weekend’s visit to Kingston Park Stadium, home to Newcastle Falcons and Newcastle Thunder (the Rugby League side) is all the more significant in the light of the above.

The KPS is a purpose built 10,200 seater stadium. It was completed in 1990 specifically for the Falcons and whilst it is now nearly 30 years old, it does contain many of the most important facilities/features that Cov fans have suggested ought to be included in any new build at the BPA.

Probably the single most talked about proposed addition to the BPA, by supporters anyway, is a new terraced ‘Cowshed’, a section in one of the new stands in which supporters will be able to stand in safety. It would be an acknowledgement of a by-gone era, one in which fans stood shoulder to shoulder as one and created an atmosphere that visiting teams often found intimidating (though never hostile).

The Kingston Park Stadium has one such area. It is situated at one end of ground  and on Sunday proved by far the most popular stand (in terms of percentage filled). End stands aren’t usually well populated at rugby matches, but this one certainly bucked the trend.

It was the area from where the most noise emanated and it, too, seemed to produce a very different atmosphere to that of the rest of the ground.

 

DSC05095
The terraced standing area of Kingston Park just before kick off. Not quite full but certainly very popular with Falcons’ supporters.

If Cov can replicate a similar area in any new build, they will be on to a winner. And Falcons have ensured it remains popular by pricing a standing ticket in this South Stand at only £12.

There are number of clubs in the Championship that charge considerably more just for ground entrance, let alone a covered area. Fair play to Newcastle for this.

Just for the record, to sit in the mid section of the West Stand (see photo below) would cost you a whopping £35 (with concessions). We sat adjacent to the 22m line and paid a healthy £25 for our tickets, so there are options to suit most supporters’ pockets.

However, it did feel as if supporters in the main stand were paying premium prices at the Falcons to keep the cost of the South Stand as low as possible and, for me, that would be a concern should it happen at Cov.

Yes, standing areas should be cheaper than seated, but I’m not sure I’d be happy paying twice the price to sit rather than stand – and many Cov supporters of ‘an age’ wouldn’t be able to stand in comfort for the duration of a game even if they wanted to.

Underneath the terraced South Stand and the main West Stand (see photo below) are two bars that run pretty much the length of each. As a result, pre and post-match drinks can be bought quickly and there’s plenty of space to stand and chat.

 

DSC05015
The impressive West Stand, not unlike Cov’s…
DSC05012
The food, bar outlets underneath the main stand (90 minutes before kick off!)

Toilets are at each end of the stands and easily accessible and as well as a dedicated Club Shop near the main entrance to the ground, the West Stand has what I can only describe as a pop up shop in the bar area which offers a range of merchandise for sale. The new shop at Cov is a massive improvement on the old Nissan hut by the main turnstile but this seemed a really positive innovation.

Everything a supporter might need was readily available, and although there was no dedicated fans’ zone selling the kind of independent street food that is on offer at Cov, it all looked a little more appetising that the fayre that has at times been on sale in the clubhouse (that’s just my opinion, I hasten to add, not one shared by the majority of Cov supporters!).

 

The East Stand seemed to be where the main clubhouse was housed, although we didn’t make it into that area.

DSC05077
The East Stand houses the changing room and I imagine the main clubhouse…

DSC05090

 

The scoreboard at Kingston was no bigger or more impressive than the one at Cov.

The way it was being used, though, was.

Far more.

I know this is going to sound like a moan, and I guess it is, but when the Falcons can screen the game live in real time on theirs, you have to wonder whether Cov’s scoreboard is being used to anything close to its full potential. I’ve tried to be really positive about the changes that are taking place in and around the ground this season, but Cov just haven’t got it right as yet on this front.

And if the current screen really isn’t able to show a live feed, then why not show highlights of the previous game before kick off and at half time, or some of the interviews with players and coaches that appear on Facebook and, somewhat oddly, nowhere else?

Cov seem to use the scoreboard at the BPA more as a giant electronic advertising hoarding on match days than an information/entertainment system,  but at the weekend we saw just how much a scoreboard could, and should, add to the enjoyment of a game.

I’m sure it’s on somebody’s ‘jobs to be done’ list, along with a good few others, but even so.

Around the ground there are a few vans/stalls to purchase food and drink (the pizza van looked to be particular popular!) but this was an area I felt Cov had developed a good deal more than Newcastle, although they had far more eateries under the stands to be fair.

DSC05019
The fish and chip van, not dissimilar to the one at Cov…

Kingston Park Stadium must have been a hugely impressive ground back when it was first opened. Even now it is one of the better grounds we visit in the Championship. The exciting thing for me is that Cov look like they have every intention of developing the BPA into a truly supporter-friendly ground, one that takes all the best features of, say, Kingston and updating them into something ultra new and modern.

Irrespective of all the other developments planned for the ground, whether they be shops, a hotel or improved conferencing facilities, supporters will also reap the rewards of such change.

It might start as soon as March as is rumoured or it might not, but when the build is complete, the BPA will be a smaller but far more inclusive stadium than The Ricoh, and despite the obvious concerns about a lack of fans to fill it, I’m not convinced that will be an issue should we reach the Premiership.

Even in the Championship, I’m pretty sure gates will increase significantly with improved facilities, provided entrance is priced realistically.

Exciting news‘ to follow, then…

If it is what I think it is, then it’s another massive step in Coventry’s renaissance.

It might not be a game-changer, but it might well be a stadium changer.

We’ve already climbed the first few steps of this new stairway…

…it looks like there are a couple more flights soon to be added.

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giphy1So, there’s going to be a Cowshed range of leisure wear, then?

Given my Twitter handle is @CowshedTim, I’m more than happy to lend my name and support to the launch.

In fact, I’d be prepared (at a small cost) to involve the wider family too.

For instance:

  • Timmy’s tracksuit range
  • Sam’s sweats
  • Sue’s  scarves
  • Holly’s hoodies
  • Jessica’s joggers
  • Josh’s junior range
  • Charlie’s classic range
  • Brad’s beanies
  • Daz’s door plaques

and so on.

I’m awaiting the phone call any day now…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stairway to Heaven.

No need to add anything else.

Author: Tim

10 thoughts on “Exciting news – a stairway to heaven…Cowshed leisure – keeping it in the family

  1. Hi Paul,

    Hope all is good with you.

    Lighting – yes, that makes sense too! I wonder if they’ll be number of smaller projects announced rather than my wholesale expansion of the carpark end! Totally agree about the need to remain ambitious – provided we continue to live within our mean. Should we opt for a few more seasons in the Championship (which I don’t think has ever been a consideration), I’m sure the coaching staff would be looking elsewhere before too long.

  2. Hi Trev,
    Yes, other than the absence of additional pitches adjoining the BPA, Cov seem to be well ahead of where Ealing currently are, unless they are already in discussions with another sporting venue to groundshare perhaps?
    Love the idea of the Cowshed Pies – Sue is already developing a suitable recipe! Could prove the most popular of all the range. Will obviously ensure you are suitably reimbursed for your suggestion…free pies for a week should cover it?

  3. Hi Cliff…it’s an odd one really. With Cov currently doing very well both on and off the pitch, you’d think they’d be keen to emphasise the positives to a group of fans who would be particularly supportive, as well as develop some of the future plans in a little more detail. Hardly going to be a difficult meeting…

  4. good article again emphasises the slow and steady growth not rush headlong into disaster philosophy, take quick glimpse at soccer AFC Wimbledons return to brand new stadium at plough lane huge danger large financial £1m immediate shortfall with possible £11m debt to follow!Steady as we go Cov,as read your logs regularly can see how slick the Falcons operation is very good club shop sells whole kaboodles,good advertising backing scoreboards well run show certainly worth trying to emulate.Looking at Ealing they way behind and sure not capable of making it to premier standards off the pitch.Reckon Cov owe you lots in loyalty fees bushwacked your logos Cowshed.If that ever extends to catering facilty might see one day Tim and Sues Cowshed Pies.(old comic days Dandy Desparate Dans Cow(shed) Pies complete with horns)!Have good day on Saturday against the Ant Hill Mob.

  5. Another good blog Tim. I do wonder if the next stage might be low level lighting which is on the agenda although that is perhaps attached to the new stand/s. Irrespective, it is exciting times for our club.

    Additionally, we need to stay ambitious, in my opinion. To not want to do better with an aim of promotion will cause stagnation. You then wont attract or indeed retain the decent players and coaches who will always want to progress I line with their ambitions.

  6. Tim, I asked the question of Chris Wearmouth via the Message Board about Fans’ Forums because, like you, I had formed the impression that they had become a thing of the past. I pointed out how well received and popular they were. His reply was an acknowledgment of their popularity and and a half promise that they were not dead, and that there would be no reason why they should not be continued. I await notification as to the next date!

  7. Can’t disagree with you, Sam, although the fact that Wasps are looking to develop a training ground near Henley suggests they are here for the long haul. The more successful Cov are, however, the more likely we are to attract some of Wasps less passionate supporters (and there appear to be a fair few of those)…

  8. Yes, that a distinct possibility and certainly would lend itself to JS comments regarding a benefit to the community etc. The comments I was party to definitely referred to the car park end and there are signs of where surveyors have been busy. Good news for the club whatever the announcements – happy times!

  9. Tim,
    I think one of the priorities was to develop the Railway End to facilitate the need for seperate male and female changing rooms; to enable the club to push on with it’s community based sports programme.

  10. Nice one Tim. Completely agree apart from one small point – and it’s not an error on your part. It’s the bit about Wasps and their supporters. I can’t see a single reason why someone would watch an imported team in an artificial environment when they have a home grown side with a local name in a purpose built stadium in the middle of their home town.

    I’m still hoping they’ll do again what they’ve done in the past and that is to find a new nest when the penny pinching starts again and the salary cap investigations bite.

Any thoughts:

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