COVENTRY’S economy will get a much-needed boost from the Sky Blues return to the Ricoh Arena, it has been claimed.
The north of the city could especially benefit with extra spending in nearby clubs and shops, on transport and car parking and at the stadium itself.
It comes after a deal to bring the football club back to the city was announced last Thursday. A bumper crowd is expected at the Sky Blues’ opening game against Gillingham on Friday (September 5).
One social club member told the Observer his venue was just weeks away from closure after missing out on £25,000 in beer takings alone during the Sky Blues’ exodus in Northampton last season.
Another club said it missed out on around £20,000 and had only managed to survive because its bowling green helped to bump up takings.
Richard Foreward, a steward at the R.A.O.B Club in Foleshill Road, told us: “We were on the brink of closure – just a few weeks away from shutting the doors.
“This has given us a second chance and hopefully they can stay up at the Ricoh this time.
“We’ve sometimes taken up to £4,000 at the bar before on some match days, which doesn’t include money taken from renting out our 70-space car park.
“It’s an awful lot of money when it’s very quiet for the rest of the week.”
Derek Drew, secretary of the Gas Club – also in Foleshill Road – added the club’s return would be a massive bonus.
“It’s brilliant, not just for us but for all the fans who come in here, as they are a real hardcore group of fans.
“It’s jam packed in here on match days. You couldn’t fit a pin in here because it’s so full and some fans come back after the game as well.”
Business groups and the council were among those joining City fans in welcoming the move back to Coventry.
Council deputy leader Coun Phil Townshend told the Observer: “This will have massive economic and cultural benefits to the north east of the city especially.
“There will be more economic activity around Coventry generally and around the Ricoh, which has got to be good news.
“There will be transport, hospitality, food and leisure spending generally in the area.”
And Angela Tellyn, partnership manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “This is great news for everyone in the city.
“A city the size of Coventry can only benefit from a successful football club and we hope that this news will be the first stage to achieving that.”
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