GREYHOUND racing could soon return to Oxford Stadium under plans to lease the facility.
Galliard Homes and Risk Capital – which co-owns the Sandy Lane stadium – advertised the lease for £250,000 a year, despite plans to knock it down for housing.
And last night, the firms’ agent, CBRE, said it had already received a “flurry” of enquiries, but declined to say who from.
But CBRE agent Josh Garside told the Oxford Mail he “absolutely” expected bids to come from firms hoping to run it as a greyhound stadium.
- Friday 11am Update: Galliard withdraws its appeal over refusal to let it build 220 houses on Oxford Stadium site
Mr Garside said: “It is a very specialist area. There are a number of specialist companies who look at these sorts of things. The likelihood is it will go to one of those guys or a local businessman.”
He gave examples of such firms as William Hill and the stadium’s former owner, the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA).
Galliard and Risk Capital are offering an exclusive-rights lease for £250,000 a year for the whole stadium and in the advert it states: “The property is available by way of a new leasehold interest on market terms for its existing use only.”
It says the site includes a “large stadium building with a footprint of circa 27,000sq ft, a greyhound track and go-karting facility” as well as 250 car-parking spaces.
Campaigners last night said leasing the stadium could save it from the bulldozers.
Campaign leader and former promotions manager at the stadium Mick Wheble said running it successfully could double its value to £4m.
And he even claimed it was his idea.
Mr Wheble, 65, told the Oxford Mail: “The last time I spoke to Galliard, two weeks ago, I told them our minimum requirement would be a substantial lease.
“They seem to have taken it on board, so I am feeling pretty smug today.
“If it becomes successful they will get a lot more money from it than they would now.”
The greyhound and speedway stadium was closed in December 2012 when owners, the GRA, said that it was no longer financially viable to hold the events there.
Galliard Homes’ plan to demolish the stadium and build 220 homes there was rejected by Oxford City Council in January last year.
But the developer launched an appeal to the planning inspectorate, due to be heard in September.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said he welcomed the bid if it was a genuine attempt to find a new operator for the stadium.
He said: “If they leased it in its present condition, someone would have to make a significant investment just to get it up and running.
“I would sooner they dropped the appeal or sold it to someone committed to running it as a stadium.”
Former greyhound owner Nick Budimir, who previously put in a bid on the stadium for an undisclosed amount, said: “The local community remains wholeheartedly behind what is a fantastic leisure site which is still in use today with dance classes, a security firm and church group.
“As a former greyhound owner who is still passionate about the game, I want greyhound racing to return there.
“This is good news as such that greyhound racing can return to Oxford. As a business we are looking to buy the site.
“Managed properly, it can still be one of the best tracks in Britain and Ireland. Our offer to buy the stadium stands, in fact we have asked CBRE to ‘name your price’. We will monitor the situation and take our next step accordingly.”
Galliard Homes and Risk Capital both refused to comment.
- To make an offer on the stadium or find out more information, call Josh Garside on 020 7182 2296.