NORTHUMBRIA University has bought the Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park rugby ground from Northern Rock, it was announced yesterday.
The university is set to work alongside the club to develop the UK’s first ever rugby-based Centre of Sporting Excellence at the site.
Included in the acquisition of the 23-acre site is the rugby stadium, land around the stadium and the car park.
The Falcons’ existing lease of the facilities will be unaffected by the acquisition, meaning they will continue to have full use of the ground.
Northumbria University’s vice-chancellor and chief executive, Professor Andrew Wathey said: “The university has enjoyed strong links with the Newcastle Falcons for a number of years, bringing benefits to the sport of rugby and to both organisations.
“In 2002, we worked with the Newcastle Falcons on the planning application to develop Kingston Park and the university’s sports ground at Bullocksteads, adjacent to Kingston Park, and it has always been our intention to develop a Centre of Sporting Excellence around rugby in partnership with the club.”
Northern Rock are to remain the main sponsor of the club and Falcons chairman Dave Thompson praised the company for its support over the years.
On the partnership with Northumbria University, he added: “Working together, we can have a long and lasting impact on the North East, putting the region firmly on the map as an area of excellence for rugby and helping to attract the best in the world to the region, as well as nurturing our own rugby talent and developing the stars of tomorrow.”
Prof Wathey added: “Northumbria University has been at the forefront of student rugby in the UK for the past decade and fields teams in both the men’s and women’s events across the country. The Northumbria teams currently boast some great talent, with several students playing at international level and in the Newcastle Falcons’ academy squad.
“There is enormous synergy between these activities. In addition to developing the Centre of Sporting Excellence at Kingston Park, we hope to host Team Northumbria and university games at the stadium in the future, providing first-rate playing experience and facilities for the young rugby stars of the future.” The Bullocksteads sports ground is extensively used by Team Northumbria and the university’s football and rugby teams for matches, as a training facility and as a venue for mini-rugby tournaments.
It is hoped the new centre of excellence will provide the club with fresh young talent, to be nurtured and developed into top players of the future.