Oxford City boss considers bid for stadium
7:00am Monday 31st March 2014
7:00am Monday 31st March 2014
OXFORD City president Thomas Guerriero has said he’s interested in buying Oxford Stadium.
The American businessman says he wants to protect the Blackbird Leys stadium from development and continue using it for speedway and greyhound racing.
Mr Guerriero said: “Speedway and greyhound racing are great revenue producers and people love them. It’s definitely something we can see ourselves getting involved with.
"It’s no good to anyone sitting there idly and rotting away, but it’s definitely a place where I can envisage doing something extraordinary if given the opportunity.
“Putting homes there would be a disservice to the city of Oxford seeing as it’s already structured perfectly as a speedway track. It could be a bedrock of the city of Oxford for the next 50 to 100 years.”
Greyhound racing at the stadium stopped in December 2012 when the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA), said it was no longer financially viable. Since then, developer Galliard has submitted a planning application to build 220 homes on the site.
Mr Guerriero, who owns or has stakes in the Oxford City football, basketball and futsal teams, has already said he wants to be involved with more sports clubs in the city.
He believes he has the financial nous to transform Oxford Stadium as a national centrepiece for speedway and greyhound racing and suggested his other sports teams could move into the ground.
The Wall Street financier said: “Obviously the speedway and the racing track goes around the pitch so it could be a potential additional facility.
“It’s a big business in the United States so it’s an interest I have personally. We’re very serious in having that facility as a big part of Oxford City and making it a place for families to have a great day out.
“Not everyone will like football or basketball so we want to reach out to a different demographic.”
Mr Guerriero said he had the money to buy it, but would also be interested in forming a business partnership with other interested parties.
He added: “I’ve been reaching out to the powers that be to show my serious interest in sitting down with them to put something in place.
“There are a lot of people out there who can write a cheque, but it doesn’t mean they are a good business person who can make a profit.”
Campaigner Mick Wheble, the stadium’s general, racing and promotions manager for 30 years, said: “It’s a wonderful idea. Someone involved in sport taking over the stadium would be marvellous.”
Last month, millionaire racing track promoter Harry Findlay pulled out of the running to buy the stadium.
Steventon farmer Robert Tyrrall and Nick Budimir have made two offers to buy it. Mr Budimir, a friend of football manager Harry Redknapp, said: “We’d be interested in speaking to anyone.”
GRA Acquisition Limited owns Oxford Stadium. Galliard Homes is a partner company. Donagh O’Sullivan, director of GRA Acquisition Limited, said he had met two other interested parties but neither led to a serious bid. He added that he would happily sit down with other bidders.
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