Future of Meadowbank Stadium unclear as council opens negotiations

Meadowbank Stadium recorded for posterity
Meadowbank: Stadium was built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games.

The future of Edinburgh's Meadowbank Stadium is hanging in the balance after the city council launched a consultation on the future of the sports centre.

The council's budget includes a £60,000 funding package for the "options assessment" into the stadium, which "has reached the end of its illustrious life".

It is understood that the site could be used for a new, state-of-the-art facility to replace the existing one.

Labour councillor Norma Hart told the budget meeting: "We know that Meadowbank has reached the end of its illustrious life, and we're serious about finding a replacement.

"This money will kickstart the process and we intend to develop some options for what to do with the existing site and then take them out to local communities, users, athletes and funders in a rigorous consultation.

"A working group would be set up to take this forward and the council should expect a report soon."

The city council first announced plans in 2006 to demolish the stadium and replace it with a new facility at Sighthill.

That plan was put on hold four years ago after land prices in the capital plunged in the wake of the global financial crisis, but the council said it still intended to go ahead with a new facility.

The Save Meadowbank campaign gathered 6000 signatures for its petition to reverse the council's decision and organised a march to the City Chambers which 600 people took part in.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said the council needs to make sure there are enough sports facilities in the east of the country.

She said: "People in east Edinburgh, indeed across Lothian, left the council in no doubt about the importance of Meadowbank when the sale was proposed several years ago. Every public meeting held was packed with vocal and articulate supporters, centre users and international sportspeople.

"It is essential the users of the stadium and the wider community are thoroughly involved in the process. The east of Scotland has been left behind in the race to create a Commonwealth Games legacy and it's high time we caught up for the sake of our young people, their health and their ambitions.

"While Glasgow invests in world class sporting infrastructure Edinburgh’s track and field and velodrome facilities have faced neglect and closure. These sports will play a central role in next year’s Games and we must have attractive, accessible venues that enable young and old to act upon the enthusiasm the Games will undoubtedly generate.”

Meadowbank Stadium was built in the late 1960s to stage the 1970 Commonwealth Games in the capital and went on to host the Games a second time in 1986.

It was also home to Meadowbank Thistle FC from 1974 until the club moved to Livingston and adopted the West Lothian town's name in 1995.

The 16,500 capacity stadium was perhaps best known for some memorable nights of athletics during the two Commonwealth Games and its brief spell as an IAAF Grand Prix venue.

Scots enjoyed home triumphs in both Commonwealth Games, with Lachie Stewart winning the men's 10,000m in 1970 and Liz Lynch (later McColgan) turning the women's event into a procession 16 years later.

On a bitterly cold night in July 1990 a Texan sprinter called Michael Johnson burst onto the scene by running 19.85 seconds for 200m, close to the world record at the time. Johnson went on to win four Olympic gold medals and set world records at 200m and 400m.

In more recent years Meadowbank was used as a concert venue for T on the Fringe, hosting bands including Muse, My Chemical Romance, Radiohead and the Pixies.