In July, Coventry City FC and the University of Warwick announced a partnership that would see a new stadium for the football club built on University-owned land. Although the exact location has not been confirmed, its proximity will be on the “agricultural field area” of the main campus, at the “southwest edge of Coventry”, suggesting it will be built beyond the Sports and Wellness Hub. The stadium is expected to hold 20,000 people, with the potential to expand the capacity to around 30,000.
As students, I’m sure many of you will be questioning how such a drastic build on campus will impact our lives at university. Although current students may only be affected by construction, future students could be dealing with much more.
The campus is a space for students, as it should be
With the stadium comes an influx of visitors to the areas surrounding the campus, which only begs the question of how the University and surrounding transport links will facilitate 20,000 visitors to campus. The club has stated that it envisions supporters arriving via “a new light rail station” which will run alongside “a new link road”. These new transport links must be successful if the stadium is to disrupt student life as little as possible. A new train link would benefit students, providing a greener connection to Coventry city centre and train station.
If transport links take visitors straight to central campus, other issues may arise. The campus is a space for students, as it should be. The Dirty Duck and Terrace Bar shouldn’t be full of football fans after every Sky Blues home game. It wouldn’t be enjoyable for those who dislike the atmosphere that sports spectators often bring. Post-match noise does not need to be brought into central campus. It may also be an issue if we end up with an extra-busy bus interchange or football fans parking on central campus.
Hopefully, there will be as little inconvenience to students and local residents as possible
The University and Club have commented that they are “committed to a visionary, environmentally-friendly stadium in terms of materials, energy, noise, building and of course access.” Hopefully, there will be as little inconvenience to students and local residents as possible.
For a better idea of what may happen, we can turn to the AmEx Stadium. Opened in 2011, it sits adjacent to the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton Falmer campus. On match days, home fans can park on the University of Sussex campus, both on weekends and weekdays. To lessen disturbance, football fans who park on campus are stewarded. They are also not permitted to use campus bars, restaurants, shops, or toilets.
Another area of concern is the large green spaces that Warwick will be giving up. We can only hope that there will be perks for students in exchange. Students are already entitled to cheaper home game tickets at the current stadium, which will hopefully continue.
A stadium on campus has the potential to provide a unique student experience
Will the University have access to the stadium? Will we be able to use it for events like Varsity? The Coventry Observer has reported that the University and Sky Blues are “already examining potential sporting and academic link-ups”, which may be in the realms of “sports science, hospitality, and with the Sky Blues in the Community programme”. Initiatives that provide direct benefits for students would be a fantastic result. At the University of Sussex, the stadium works directly with the university’s Careers and Employability centre to ensure students can get jobs at the stadium.
A stadium on campus has the potential to provide a unique student experience, should the University allow it. Recently, students criticised Warwick for its lack of inclusivity regarding sport. The Warwick Sport’s Club Pass will be increasing in the upcoming academic year, leaving students to pay over £100 just to become a member of a sports club. In a University that often does not feel as if it works for the benefit of its students, let us hope that the stadium will be different. For the time being, we can only speculate as to how the new stadium will affect life on Warwick’s campus.