Rose Bowl to be bought by Council

December 16, 2011

Eastleigh Borough Council has come to an agreement with Hampshire CCC to buy their Rose Bowl stadium and build a hotel on site.

The decision, which was made last night, December 15th, will see Eastleigh Borough Council buy the venue for £6.5m ($10m) to rent back to Hampshire County Cricket Club.

The council will invest almost £40m ($62M) in the Rose Bowl, which made a loss of nearly £900,000 (approx. $1,400,000) last year. £32m ($50) will be spent on the construction of a four-star hotel at the stadium which will comprise 175 bedrooms, conference centre and golf course.

The move is a controversial one by the Liberal Democrat-run council. The idea behind the investment is that the new development will benefit the local economy and create hundreds of jobs, as well as make the Rose Bowl a more profit making and viable international and test match arena, but local hoteliers have expressed their disquiet at the creation of such a high profile competitor.

Keith House, the Eastleigh Borough Council leader, has sought to reassure local businessmen of the legality and practicality of the decision.

“The council owns vast amounts of property across the borough, from hotels to shopping centres and office blocks. It’s just part of our ordinary business. We invest in property, we take the income from secure tenants and we use that to keep council tax down and ensure that our services are protected from cuts. We’ll own the site but we’re not going to be selling cricket tickets – that’s for the private sector to do”.

Godfrey Olsen, leader of the minority Conservative group, has criticised the move.

“It’s [The Rose Bowl] a superb venue and I would like to see it survive, but I still believe that this is outside the remit of the local authority to borrow money to fund the building and the ownership of a hotel at the Rose Bowl. Added to that now, they’ve decided to buy the Rose Bowl itself, which has been in a loss making situation for the past two or three years”.

Work on the hotel is expected to get under way in the New Year and is anticipated to take eighteen months.