How has Hull City Council taken its eye off the ball over KC Stadium? - Angus Young
In the wake of Assem Allam's statement about the Hull City rebrand, Mail columnist Angus Young asks why there is no obvious oversight of the publicly owned KC Stadium.
Imagine spending about £40m to build and fit out your dream house. Then you fork out another £13m on landscaping the gardens and driveways.
After that, you decide you don't want to live there. Instead, you rent it out under a rather generous lease and walk away. Does this make you an absent landlord?
While not a des res, the curious case of the KC Stadium makes me think Hull City Council currently fits that description to a tee.
Earlier this week, Hull City owner Assem Allam reignited the debate over the stadium's ownership. In a nutshell, he blamed the council's refused to let him acquire the stadium freehold as the reason he is now seeking new forms of income generation by rebranding the club as Hull Tigers as a way of opening up commercial deals around the world.
I'm not going into the rights and wrongs of the Tigers rebrand here. Nor is there any real point in stating the obvious – that any future reconciliation between Dr Allam and the council appears to be as likely as the prospect of lasting peace in the Middle East.
But I do wonder how the council has ended up taking its eye off the ball over the stadium.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no regular scrutiny or monitoring – at least in public – of the stadium itself as a council asset or the performance of the Stadium Management Company, which is required to do what it says on the tin as part of the operating lease. This lack of transparent oversight, either politically or within the council's service structure, is best summed up in a recently published two-year business plan covering the authority's arts and leisure team.
"The team takes a lead in delivering the city's aspirations for developing Hull through sports, leisure and heritage," says an introduction to the 22-page document. There follows a list of council-owned leisure venues, as well as a raft of information about visitor numbers, customer satisfaction levels, subsidy costs and income. Yet nowhere is there any mention of a certain 25,404-capacity, council-owned sports stadium nestling in the corner of West Park.
Nor is there any reference to the adjacent council-owned multi-use sports arena, built at the same time as the stadium as part of the same publicly funded project.