Bath Rugby is seeking flexibility on temporary planning conditions regarding the East Stand at the Rec.
Although there are positive signs of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in accordance with the government’s roadmap, further restrictions and disruptions are possible.
As such, the Club has submitted a variation application to Bath and North East Somerset Council requesting its East Stand to remain in situ this summer for the following reasons:
1. There remains the potential for change to the closing of the 2020/21 campaign
The last regular home fixture date in the 2020/21 Premiership calendar remains 13th June 2021. There is however a risk of fixtures going beyond this date due to the coronavirus, and it is therefore necessary to ensure a functioning stadium is available throughout this period.
2. The 2021/22 season structure is not yet confirmed
Premiership Rugby has not confirmed the 2021/22 season structure at present. There may be just a small number of weeks between seasons this year, given the later running of this campaign and the possible early September start of next. The Club requires certainty to be able to restart when the times comes.
3. The rejuvenation of community events at the Rec
Bath Rugby’s landlord, Bath Recreation Limited, intends to use the Rec this summer for a range of community-based activities and events, including the Bath Festival's finale, the Bath Half, Bike Bath and Bath Carnival.
Bath Recreation Limited has asked for the retention of the East Stand this summer, given the impact of the six-week construction period falling in the period when these community events would occur.
4. Continuing the operation of the Covid Vaccination Centre
The de-rigging of the East Stand requires the full use of the Rec and southern car parks. This would stop the Covid Vaccination Centre in the Pavilion from operating for a critical six-week period over the summer.
The retention of the East Stand in situ would also mitigate disruption to near neighbours during the summer months that would otherwise arise from the work to de-rig and re-erect the stand.
Bath Rugby Chief Executive, Tarquin McDonald, commented: "Playing elite contact sport during a pandemic is complex, and right now, to navigate this, we require both flexibility and stability. More importantly, leaving the East Stand in place this summer will ensure the Pavillion can continue its critical role as a covid-19 vaccination centre, and that Bath Recreation Limited can support the delivery of significant community events planned for the City over summer months.
“While everything around us continues to change, our long-term ambition, of course, remains to create a brilliant stadium in the heart of Bath that benefits all sport from elite level to grassroots, the city, and our many communities.”