COSTING more than £10million and almost 10 years in the making, Kendal Rugby Club is now just days away from playing its first match at its new ground.

Able to accommodate around 600 spectators, the Mint Bridge stadium aims to function as a hub for the community as well as a 'premiership' facility for the Black and Ambers.


Dr Stephen Green, chairman of the club, said that the comparison between the old and new ground was 'out of all proportion'.

"It's comparing a garden shed to a luxury hotel," he said.

"This is probably now the best facility in this county. I don't think there's anything to touch it really, in terms of the actual facilities as well as the building."

The new club has been made possible thanks to a contract with Morbaine, in return for releasing Mint Bridge for the development of a Sainsbury's supermarket.

The new supermarket is expected to be open by 2018 and will create 350 jobs.

In terms of playing space, the new 12-acre site offers a grass pitch complete with electronic scoreboard, an artificial pitch that Dr Green told the Gazette will ensure a game is 'never' cancelled due to poor weather, a pitch for youth teams and a training pitch.

However, he Dr Green is keen to point out that the new facility is about much more than the matches played on a Saturday afternoon.

Although work is ongoing, outside will offer a children's play area and a memorial garden. Inside, there is a function room that leads on to the impressive balcony, a members space and a full professional kitchen that will allow for a cafe to be open throughout the week.

"I think it's a fantastic asset to the community," he said. "It's not just a rugby club. We could have just made it just a rugby club but it's not. We're having the fireworks here for instance.

"We'll have events here. There are other clubs that are interested in using our facilities and partnering with us."

Nick Milner, training facilities manager for the club, added that he hoped the new ground would offer inclusivity.

"We want more young people and Kendal people to think it's their club," he said. "And not just a rugby club. It is more than that.

"We're here because of rugby but this facility can deliver more than just rugby."

Dr Green anticipates that the new ground will create around 15 new jobs and he is aware that it must function as a successful business.

"We've got to make it work," he said. "It can't sit here six days and just be open Saturday afternoon."

And although Dr Green said that everybody had a 'sentimental attachment' to the old Mint Bridge ground that the club has been playing at for the past 90 years, everybody was hugely excited to start at the new location after so many years of waiting.

"I've been round the whole of the north of England to other grounds," he said. "There is nothing to touch this, this is almost premiership standard. It's very fortunate for us that we got this.

"We signed the contract for this in 2008, so it's nearly 10 years. After a while you think it's never going to happen. But actually I'm very very excited now, it's fantastic."