Huddersfield Town chairman Kevin Nagle has made it clear he wants to re-open the gym at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The Stadium Health & Fitness Club shut down suddenly at the end of November amid a funding crisis engulfing gym operator Kirklees Active Leisure.
Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL), the company which owns the stadium, is seeking a new operator but that is complicated by uncertainty over the future of KSDL itself and future ownership of the stadium.
Huddersfield Hub understands that several gym operators are interested in the site but would be reluctant to commit to a long-term deal until the stadium’s ownership situation is resolved.
Town’s American-based owner Mr Nagle is in Huddersfield this week and is meeting with Huddersfield Giants owner Ken Davy and officials from Kirklees Council.
The stadium – which is 30 years old this year – is owned in a three-way partnership by Town (40%), Kirklees Council (40%) and Huddersfield Giants (20%).
Kirklees Council wants to hand over ‘operational control’ to the sports clubs, either Town alone or in partnership with the Giants and has said it has no more money to invest in the ageing facilities. There is also speculation that the council has written off millions of pounds in loans.
In a video diary on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Nagle answered questions from fans about the future of the stadium.
Asked if money was the stumbling block to a deal, Mr Nagle said: “I don’t think it’s a cash situation, at least not from this side. We want to create a win-win for everyone.”
While a resolution to the stadium ownership may still be months away, Mr Nagle said he was keen to get moving on the stadium gym.
“The gym closed at the very end,” he said. “We want to talk to them about ‘can we take control of that?’ and open it back up and bring some of the people back.
“There was something like 3,500 people affected by the gym closing. I want to see if we can take the next steps. We want to move in rather quickly and try to help it and have everyone benefitting from it including us as well.”
Mr Nagle said he wanted the stadium ownership sorted as quickly as possible but it’s clear there is still much talking to be done.
The stadium needs millions of pounds of investment but Mr Nagle said: “Until we figure out who is going to have ultimate control it will be difficult to do anything truly meaningful.”
However, he added: “Even if we don’t take majority control there will be capital investments going on.”
Longer term, if Town secure control of the stadium, Mr Nagle will look at developing the surrounding land, which amounts to around 53 acres.
He highlighted plans for a hotel – on a playground and part of the Town Avenue car park – and said: “We would look at that all over again. We wouldn’t go really super fast on that because we have to respect the needs of the community.
“We would focus on the stadium and move out from there. We realise that there’s lots of needs that the community has.”
A planning application for what was then going to be a Hilton Garden Inn was submitted in 2019 and finally approved in 2021.
Mr Nagle is also said to be looking at the possibility of taking over The Rope Walk pub next to the stadium.