Commonwealth Games: Stadium lure for new bid

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MANCHESTER, having recovered its energies after last year's second unsuccessful bid for the Olympics, is renewing its efforts to build the state-of-the-art national stadium which would draw major international sporting events to this country.

The stadium - virtually the same as envisaged for the city's bid for the 2000 Olympics but with a capacity reduced from 85,000 to 65,000 - would be built by 1998. The initiative is bound up with the city's bid for the Commonwealth Games of 2002. On Wednesday, in competition with London and Sheffield, the team which fought the British corner in Monte Carlo last September, headed by Sir Bob Scott, will put its case to the 24 members of the Commonwealth Games Council for England.

No one questions the vision; it is the financing which attracts interest. While London is basing its appeal on a low- cost use of existing, traditional facilities, Manchester is looking forward boldly and seeking a similar boldness on behalf of those administering sporting funds in the next six years.

The total cost of the stadium would be pounds 187m. Of this, pounds 72m has already been committed by the public sector for land acquisition and link roads. It is envisaged that pounds 40m will be raised from the private sector. The final pounds 75m is being sought from the Government's Millenium Fund, which is intended to finance major sports projects, drawing from 20 per cent of the funds accrued by the proposed National Lottery.

It is a gamble, or a golden opportunity, depending on how you look at it.

'This,' Scott said, 'is the one that is going to happen. It is not dependent on the Commonwealth Games bid, although it is obviously very closely united at the moment.'