AMBITIOUS plans to transform Oxford Stadium could reach a crunch point within weeks.

Businessman Nik Budimir is close to submitting an offer to buy the facility in Sandy Lane, Cowley, and turn it into a multi-use venue.

The entrepreneur says he is willing to invest up to £25 million re-establishing greyhound racing, speedway and a dance school at the stadium, while adding a boxing club and possibly a rugby sevens pitch.

Campaigners are cautiously optimistic about the proposals, while a leading city councillor hopes the site’s future can be sorted ‘sooner rather than later’.

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Mr Budimir believes his plan would create ‘300 to 400’ jobs and wants Galliard Homes, the stadium’s owner, to respond to his offer by January 1.

He said: “It’s looking very promising.

“That stadium has been criminally underused.

“Greyhounds will be part of it, but they won’t be the be-all and end-all.

“The stadium would have ten to 15 activities going on, so if any of them fails the stadium won’t fail too.”

Oxford Mail:

Greyhound racing and speedway left Oxford Stadium several years ago Picture: Ed Nix

Mr Budimir says he has ‘serious financial backing’ and has held initial talks with several groups interested in using the facility.

His ideas include installing solar panels and LED floodlights, as well as hiring out the stadium’s three hospitality suites.

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Intriguingly, he has looked into replacing the karting circuit in the middle of the track with a junior rugby pitch.

Oxford Mail:

The karting track could be turned into a rugby sevens pitch Picture: Ed Nix

The plans could also be a boost for Blackbird Leys Boxing Club, which has been looking for new premises.

Mr Budimir said: “We want it as carbon-neutral as possible, serving the community and creating jobs.

“It can be a fantastic asset, whether people like dog racing or not.

“There’s so much more that can be done there.”

The Bournemouth-based entrepreneur has had previous bids for the stadium turned down but met campaigners in Headington last November.

Oxford Mail:

Last year's meeting on Oxford Stadium in Headington

Since then, Oxford City Council has agreed its 2036 Local Plan, which includes a policy to protect the site from being turned into housing.

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A council study last year concluded that speedway and greyhound racing, which were last hosted at the stadium in 2008 and 2013 respectively, could be brought back and turn a profit.

This means anyone who wants to make a planning application has to try to revive the two sports at the facility, although they could build homes over one of the car parks.

Oxford Mail:

Speedway fans at last year's Local Plan hearings

Mr Budimir’s latest proposals have the support of Rob Peasley, of the Save Oxford Stadium group.

He said: “If you’re going to spend a lot of money renovating it you’re going to want to get as much out of it as possible.

“Greyhounds and speedway are the bread and butter, but the more the merrier.

“We just hope the stadium owners budge and are open to offers.

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“Hopefully this will finally prompt what we’ve wanted all along.

“This could be the moment it all starts to shift along, but we’re always a bit guarded.

“You’ve just got to be positive and hope this is the one that goes through.”

However, the Local Plan also adds that, if racing cannot make a profitable return, the stadium can be knocked down for housing.

Oxford Mail:

The rundown Oxford Stadium Picture: Ed Nix

Several developers are interested in buying the site and the city council is in ‘ongoing discussions with several parties’, according to cabinet member for planning and housing delivery Alex Hollingsworth.

He added: “The council’s intention, which we’ve made clear all along, is either the current owners bring it back into use as a leisure venue or sell to someone who will.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how these plans develop.

“The intention has always been to have something viable to the benefit of the community.

“Clearly we’d like it to happen sooner rather than later, but the planning policy is clear.”

Mr Hollingsworth previously said the council’s ‘last resort’ was buying the stadium from Galliard using a compulsory purchase order.

Galliard did not respond to a request for comment.