Castle Vale Football Stadium

Health and Wellbeing | Place-based Approaches | Sports | Young People
The Pioneer GroupThe Midlands
What is the project?

Situated in the heart of Castle Vale the stadium has been used by active football fans for over 25 years. In 2014 The Pioneer Group took over the management of the local football stadium via a 25 year lease from Birmingham City Council. We took this bold step to save the facility from closure by the local authority in order to continue to provide a community sports space that could be enjoyed by current and new users, supporting local clubs to participate in health and well-being.

During this time nearly £1m was secured externally and invested in the development of the stadium. This, alongside an on-going financial commitment from The Pioneer Group, has led to a fully operational football stadia, including 3G pitch installed in 2017, several grass pitches surrounding the site and a newly refurbished function room.

The stadium consists of:
• A FIFA accredited 3G floodlit football pitch
• 3 full size adult/junior grass pitches
• 300 seater grandstand
• Bar-function room
• Changing rooms
• Parking

And is home to community football club partners to increase participation in grass-roots football whilst also providing valuable sports space to local schools and community groups.

Who is the project targeted at?

As part of the development of the stadium in accessing external funding (Football Foundation), we worked closely with existing users of the stadium and identified community football club partners to enable us to support local people and increase access into grass roots football.

We now have over 12 football clubs who regularly use the site, alongside local schools, youth and community groups. The stadium is also home to one of the football clubs training academy who deliver football courses for young people.

There has been a focus upon widening the football offer to a range of football clubs to enable them to achieve their goals including increasing, girls and ladies football. We have also recently launched Walking Football which is being led by a local community group.

The stadium and surrounding grass areas are also used for wider sporting and community events, including the Castle Vale festival.

Why did the project come about?

Castle Vale Football Stadium became at risk of closure by the local authority during 2013. This was a result of public spending reduction and a city review to seek alternative management options for a number of community assets across Birmingham.

We made a bold decision to submit an expression of interest in managing the site. There were several reasons for this:

• We and local residents didn’t want the local community to lose the facility – our services and activities go beyond our tenants and are focused upon our long-standing commitment to Castle Vale
• We were concerned about the building being left vacant and any risk of ASB which we had worked hard to reduce over many years
• We believed the site could be developed further to support our wider health and well-being and community agenda

This resulted in us taking over the management of the stadium and surrounding grass pitches in 2014, holding a 25 year lease agreement with the local authority.

How was this project implemented?

As we were working through the process of taking over the management and assessing funding opportunities we undertook the following:

• Regular stakeholder meetings with the local authority, local Councillors, potential funders, local football clubs, schools, resident representatives, third sector partners and staff
• Wider community consultations
• Options appraisal and financial planning informed by the above
• Sport consultant engagement
• Funder negotiations and applications

A business case was developed and presented to our Board for approval with a focus upon developing the stadium via the installation of a 3G pitch with funding being sought from a local Endowment Trust Fund and the Football Foundation. A contribution was also sought and agreed by the Board from our own resources.

Board approved the business case and funding was secured to enable the vision to be realised.

The 3G pitch was installed and launched in 2017 and during 2019 the function room was refurbished to provide a more welcoming social space to users of the stadium whilst also opening up opportunities for other events.

During the last year we have launched a new website and focused upon continuous improvement of operations. We continue to work with our local community football club partners and our Football Foundation funding is monitored through the delivery of a Football Development Plan. We hold regular service-users meetings to address any operational concerns and identify areas for growth.

We have plans to build upon current usage and regularly review the longer-term opportunities to maximise community participation in and around the stadium site. We are fortunate that the location of the stadium is in close proximity to a conservation area, local allotments, local play area and our local senior school. It is also within walking distance to households across the neighbourhood.

How was this project funded?

A business case was developed and presented to our Board for approval with a focus upon developing the stadium via the installation of a 3G pitch with funding being sought from a local Endowment Trust Fund and the Football Foundation. A contribution was also sought and agreed by the Board from our own resources.

Outcomes so far

Whilst taking over the management of the stadium has been valuable for the local community it has also been a steep learning curve for us and we continue to develop our learning and practice. Nonetheless, it has and continues to provide a much needed local resource and a high quality football facility. Since taking over the management of the stadium we have recorded the following successes:

• Nearly £1m of external funding raised to develop the stadium
• Increased usage with 12 football clubs regularly using the site
• Housed a local football club’s training academy providing learning opportunities for over 50 young people per year
• Provided a resource for community events and activities beyond football increasing footfall
• Supported on average over 700 people per annum to participate in football/sporting activities

Most importantly retained a community asset for local people as part of our long-standing commitment to Castle Vale.

Future plans

Our business plan identifies three phases of development:

Phase 1 - Our immediate priorities are to ensure we maximise the usage of the current facilities and surrounding space
Phase 2 – we will then assess new opportunities within the existing space – better use of grassed areas or the old external astro-turf site which is currently out of use
Phase 3 – we will explore larger-scale opportunities to support a wider health and well-being offer

We will continue to work with local partners and our community to ensure the stadium and surrounding areas provide the activities and space that make Castle Vale a great place to live, work and visit.

Additional Websites
Contact Details

Lisa Martinali
lisa.martinali@pioneergroup.org.uk