HOPES have been revived over a lasting future for Oxford Stadium after the city council revealed plans to run it as a social enterprise in a bid to bring motorsport back to the track.
The former greyhound and speedway stadium in Blackbird Leys has been closed since December 2012, with owners so far showing no sign of a plan to reopen it.
But a consortium of supporters with a background in speedway has approached the council with a plan to run the Sandy Lane site on a not-for-profit basis, with a 'good chance' greyhound racing could also return.
The group has asked to remain anonymous as negotiations are at a 'delicate' stage, but a spokeswoman said: "What we are trying to do is for the benefit of us all.
"We are going to hand over a formal set-up, ready to run, for all the supporters to take over. Matters are progressing nicely."
Barton councillor Van Coulter has taken the lead in efforts to take back possession of the site through a community purchase order (CPO).
He said: "I've been approached by people interested in establishing a social enterprise for the acquisition of Oxford Stadium.
"The group is looking for support and I've put it to them to formally establish the company, and ensure it has a formal, legal identity."
It is highly unusual for a CPO, normally used to seize land needed for development, to be used to wrest back control of a leisure site and heritage asset.
The group needs to provide a legal undertaking to run Oxford Stadium and a business plan showing how the cost of the CPO can be repaid to Oxford City Council.
Mr Coulter said: "The ball is in the court for them to prove it can pay for the stadium, and run it as a sustainable not-for-profit for community benefit."
Long-time campaigners were cautiously optimistic after years of fruitless attempts to work with the site's ultimate owners, venture capitalists Risk Capital Partners.
Wayne Mazey, 49, and wife Liz, 51, of Sandford, said: "I think this would be a good idea if they can get it up and running, but it's still going to take a lot of investment.
"For us the main disappointment is that the council never seems to come forward with this information; it takes someone to ask the questions for us."
The spokeswoman for the consortium, which includes Oxford residents and those from further afield, added there was a 'good chance' greyhound racing would also return.
Mr Mazey, whose adopted greyhound Walnut Dash was trained by a former kennel worker at Oxford, said: My dad used to take me to speedway from six years old onwards.
"That stadium has been part of my life, all my life. Even if it was just a comeback of one thing like speedway as a foothold, I would 100 per cent be behind it."
She said: "We have every intention of finding someone to run the greyhound side."
Blackbird Leys councillor Linda Smith, the council's board member for leisure, parks and sports, said she had spoken to residents about the prospect of speedway returning.
She said: "To be successful with a CPO the council will need to show what they want it used for, and that it's credible and viable. It's a real waste at the moment.
"I was quite surprised because you would think that people right next to it wouldn't want the noise and disruption caused by speedway.
"But when you talk to people in Sandy Lane and Balfour Road they are really keen to see it brought back to us and miss it being used regularly.
"If there's someone out there that's able to bring it back into use as a viable scheme, that's what we should be asking for and supporting."
Directors of Risk Capital Partners and its subsidiary Cowley Property Investment, which officially owns the stadium, did not respond to requests for comment.