The need to invest in developing The Racecourse as a venue for international sport and live music events has been raised in the Assembly chamber.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said the Welsh Government was actively calling for and investing in major events arenas in Cardiff and Newport. He asked cabinet secretary Ken Skates why his government wasn’t as pro-active in promoting and investing in Wrexham's Racecourse stadium.
Ken Skates, in response, stated:
“All of us would like to see The Racecourse receive investment to become a more active and vibrant hub in the community. My officials recently met with Wrexham Football Trust* – they discussed the vision for The Racecourse. The key significance will be the role local council plays in devising a master plan for the town to ensure that any development aligns with any other development in the area. “The Racecourse deserves to have the investment – that will only come as a result of a sound business case and a very clear vision.”
Mr Gruffydd commented:
“I’m incredibly disappointed with this response. In recent weeks Mr Skates has been vocal in arguing for new investment in major events arenas for Newport and Cardiff. There the Government has seen fit to take a lead, which is completely in order.
“But when it comes to advocating and arguing for a similar major event arena here in the North we see him pass the buck to the local council.
“It seems this Labour Government is failing to show the same commitment to economic development, sports facilities and entertainment hubs here in the North as it is in the South.”
Mr Gruffydd has also sought assurances that Wrexham will be the location for a new national football museum.
He questioned Ken Skates on plans for a major feasibility study into the matter:
“I welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to commission a feasibility study into a National Football museum for Wales, as agreed in the budget agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Government last year. It’s long overdue and I’m confident that such a museum will be able to reflect past and future successes in the Beautiful Game. With that in mind, can the minister explain how a commitment to look into a football museum located in the North has become a feasibility study into a sports museum somewhere in Wales? I’m not the only person to sense a change in direction and alarm bells are ringing.”
Mr Skates confirmed that the study would consider a sports museum and also look at options in all parts of Wales, but also stated that the preferred option was to locate it in Wrexham or elsewhere in the North.
Mr Gruffydd said later:
“Like many people who believe a new national football museum for Wales should be based in Wrexham, I’m concerned that the brief has been altered. Moving the goalposts like this will only raise doubts about the Labour Government’s commitment to this important strategic project. “Wrexham is where the FA of Wales was established, the home of early internationals and it’s home to the third oldest club in the world. It's the spiritual home of Welsh football and a national museum would provide a substantial economic boost to the area.
“Wrexham Council already has an extensive collection of Welsh football memorabilia that's been on show recently at the town's museum and I'd like to see that collection on permanent display for fans to be able to see.
“England has a national football museum in Manchester, Scotland has one in Glasgow and it makes perfect sense to locate our national museum in Wrexham. As well as recognising the historic importance of the area in developing football in Wales, it would also re-balance the economic benefits towards the North."
* We assume Mr Skates means the Wrexham Supporters' Trust.