Rotherham United have revealed plans to turn the delapidated building in the grounds of AESSEAL New York Stadium into a leisure complex and hotel.
The club are meeting with English Heritage in October about the grade-two-listed former Guest and Chrimes factory and hope to have positive news by Christmas.
At a fans’ forum held at New York last night, Millers chairman Tony Stewart said: “We now have a leisure company that want to invest their time and resources into the Guest & Chrimes building.
“We had a list of six which became a shortlist of three and is now down to one.”
The leisure complex would be trampoline-related and would be the biggest of its kind in the UK. A hotel annex would also be included in the redevelopment.
“I am optimistic that we now have a situation where we can work with English Heritage and retain quite a lot of the exisiting building,” Stewart added.
“Hopefully, before Christmas people will be nicely surprised by how far we are down the road.
“It’s a sensitive topic to English Heritage and the people of Rotherham.”
Stewart revealed he has held 14 meetings in the last five years with English Heritage about the future use of the structure but only in the last 12 months has the leisure centre become the front-runner.
More talks are planned in October.
Stewart hopes to negotiate a 10-year lease with the leisure company to bring in income.
OTHER FORUM HIGHLIGHTS
Chief executive Paul Douglas on the prospect of signing loan striker Kieffer Moore on a full deal from Ipswich Town:
Close contact with Ipswich. Millers have made their interest clear in taking Moore on a permanent basis. Want to be first in the queue if he becomes permanently available.
Tony Stewart on whether the Danny Ward sale proceeds will be available for new players:
It will go into the playing budget for future use. Huddersfield Town had a 50 per cent sell-on clause, so half the money goes to them.
Head of recruitment Jamie Johnson on the recruitment structure:
He heads it up with Tom Randle (ex-Crystal Palace) as chief scout, then there are four part-time scouts. Five reports minimum before a player is signed, plus character references.
Commercial director Steve Coakley on empty New York corner units:
Rotherham are listening to offers and have appointed professional letting agents. Club have declined offers because they’re “not the right fit”. Biding time will bring the right deal.
Manager Paul Warne on his backroom staff:
“They honestly put in more hours on the training ground than any staff I’ve ever worked with.”
Paul Warne on the prospects of promotion from League One:
“My honest opinion is that it’s a team that can fight for promotion. You need to be injury-free as best you can. With maybe a couple (of signings) in January, with Jamie’s help, we could be there or thereabouts. We’ve definitely played some of the stronger teams away from home already. If we can finish in the play-offs at worse, given the journey we have been on, that would be a real achievement.”
Paul Douglas on following the Bradford City example of cut-price season tickets to fill the ground:
Rotherham already have a strong season-ticket base. Bradford have done it to avoid having only 5,000 fans in a large-capacity stadium.
Tony Stewart’s theory on the reason behind ex-boss Kenny Jackett’s decision to quit after 39 days and five winless games last season:
He “jumped ship” because he wasn’t winning games and feared that fans would turn on him and he would be sacked down the line.