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Meadowbank revamp work set to begin

A major project to redevelop the Meadowbank Stadium site in Edinburgh is moving closer, after the closure date for the site was confirmed.

The stadium will shut on December 3rd, following the closure last month of the velodrome on the site. This will be followed by the start of work early next year on demolishing the existing facilities and then building new ones. 

A range of new indoor facilities will be the result, with the project set to be completed by Easter 2020.

Among these will be two multi-sports games halls. The larger of these will have 420 permanent seats and room to seat up to 725 more in the bleachers. There will also be spectator facilities at the four-court badminton hall, with 430 seats.

In addition, there will be three fitness studios, a gym, a new gymnastics arena, a martial arts studio, a boxing ring and an indoor athletics track. As well as changing rooms, these facilities will be supplemented by a cafe and meeting rooms.

However, it is not just in the new sporting facilities that insulation fitters and shower waterproofing workers will be kept busy. Part of the site is also being sold off to developers for new housing, which will help provide much-needed extra residential accommodation in a densely populated part of the city. Although Meadowbank does not lie within the boundaries of the nearby Leith Walk ward - the most densely populated in Scotland - it is still an area where space for housing is limited and demand high. 
The redevelopment will involve the retention of athletics facilities at the site, with an outdoor track and throwing area and a small grandstand, plus a couple of 3G artificial football pitches, one of which will be inside the track. 

Efforts will be made to find alternative facilities for the various clubs and societies that use the current facilities on the site while new ones are built.

Councillor Ian Campbell, vice convener of culture and communities for the City of Edinburgh Council, said the work will mark the "end of an era" for the old Meadowbank, but also a chance to create new facilities to improve "physical activity, health and wellbeing in Edinburgh for generations to come".

He added: "The facility will support both the local community and clubs and it is important we get the design right. That is why the facility mix has been revisited, and now incorporates improved indoor athletics facilities in line with feedback from individual users and sports clubs within the budget we have available.

"The old Meadowbank has been at the heart of sport in Edinburgh for almost half a century. We now need this new-look venue to greatly support physical activity in Edinburgh for at least the next 50 years to come, while catering for the city’s ever-demanding housing needs." 

Meadowbank Stadium was first built in 1970 and was the athletics venue used when Edinburgh hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1986. 

The stadium was also in more regular use when local football club Ferranti Thistle changed its name to Meadowbank Thistle and moved into the stadium in 1973. The name change away from the company name was a prerequisite of joining the Scottish Football League.

However, the club was unable to attract a lot of support due to sharing a city with established clubs Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian. In 1995, it left Meadowbank and Edinburgh behind to move to nearby Livingston and adopted the name of the town.