IT was a groundbreaking day in this ground-building story.
Work has begun at last on the long-awaited Rotherham United stadium to be built on the former Guest and Chrimes site in the town centre.
Preparation work to raise the ground level by two metres started this week as part of the flood alleviation plans for the site.
The work involves the transportation of 54,000 cubic metres of material from Maltby Colliery and Tata Steel at Parkgate to the new ground over a nine week period.
The new 12,000-seater stadium has been designed as part of a masterplan for the area which also includes conference and banqueting facilities.
Millers’ chairman Tony Stewart and director Richard Stewart visited the site to dig the first hole alongside commercial director of GMI Construction, Paul Whitaker, and Simon Morris of Gleeds.
Tony Stewart said: “Supporters driving into Rotherham along Centenary Way will be able to see real progress on the site, and I think that is really exciting. I am told that within six weeks the ground will have been raised by two metres, and I am confident that we will meet that deadline.
“They are working on the new council building and that project is progressing well and I know the council are very impressed by them, so I am confident that they, along with Gleeds, will be able to deliver the new stadium on time.
Paul Whitaker added: “We are delighted to kick off the construction work for what will become a renowned stadium in the region for years to come.
“This type of project epitomises the community spirit of a town like Rotherham and allows a wide range of stakeholders to get involved throughout the development process.”
Simon Morris said: “Now that work has started, people will see a lot of rapid activity on the site.
“The first task was to clear the site of vegetation, and within weeks materials will be brought in to begin work on the building.
“By the autumn, we expect to see steelwork being erected on site, which is when the stadium will really begin to take shape.
“The club have high expectations for this stadium and I am looking forward to the challenge of meeting them.
“We are still very much on course to have the stadium completed in time for the 2012/2013 season and I am excited to sit in the crowd and watch that match.”