AMBITIOUS plans to bring the former home of Darlington Football Club back to life have tonight (Tuesday, November 6) been given the backing of the Borough Council.
The 25,000-seater stadium has lain dormant since the Quakers quit earlier this year, but Mowden Park Rugby Club plans to take over.
The deal hinged on the rugby club reaching a deal with the authority to buy a 17-acre plot of land adjoining The Northern Echo Arena which it would transform into training pitches.
That was agreed in principle and last night the council’s cabinet gave its consent at a behind closed doors meeting.
Approached by The Northern Echo afterwards, council leader, Bill Dixon said: “I can confirm it’s true. We had hoped we would get to this position with the club because I think they represent by far and away the best future that the stadium has got.
“The terms are agreeable to both sides and are very much in line with deals that we have previously done.
“Hopefully, this now frees the way up for the club to buy the stadium from the current owners.”
Asked when things could happen, Coun Dixon said: “We are prepared to move as soon as the legal deals are signed off. In theory, we would be looking to do it within the next month or two.
“We have agreed to sell, so from our point of view the sooner, the better. From our point of view there is nothing to stop it.”
Asked if the rugby club could make a success of the venture, he said: “All we can say as a council is that we hope they do. In reality, they have got their business model which, when explained to me, makes a great deal of sense and we want to support them in that.”