WORK is set to start on a multimillion pound project to transform the home of Newport rugby into a 21st Century rugby stadium.

Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell said the club was confident it could start the long-awaited redevelopment of Rodney Parade in January now that funding is in place.

Work for the first phase of the scheme will see the demolition of the Argus Terrace with work starting to on a new grandstand to include hospitality boxes and seats for up to 2,700 spectators.

Construction is expected to take six months and it is hoped it will be opened in time for the 2011/2012 rugby season.

Plans for new terraces have been lodged with the city council and a planning application for the dining area will be submitted shortly.

Mr Hazell said: “The last year has been difficult economically but now the plans are in place, the finance available and our contractors are preparing their final plans and materials.”

Newport Rugby Club chairman, Will Godfrey, said the current economic uncertainties meant it would take several years to complete the 15,000-seater stadium which was originally said to cost £40 million, and the club would have to take it one step at a time.

In the meantime it will put in temporary facilities to improve parts of the stadium, which will be redeveloped at a later date.

The club is also working with the council to look at ways to improve the external entrance of the existing Hazell Stand on Rodney Road, until renovation work starts.

Designs are currently drawing up plans to re-clad the outside of the stand and organisers are also looking into the cost of a mural depicting the history of rugby in the city.

The second phase of the scheme will include a new stand at the south end of the ground, which will provide a much-needed community centre for residents in the Victoria area.

Rugby plans are great news

IT IS GREAT news that funding is now in place to start turning the dream of a new rugby stadium for Newport into reality.

It has taken some time to get to this point, since the plans for a 15,000 capacity stadium to house Newport RFC and Newport Gwent Dragons, were first revealed.

The recession and banking crisis both played their part in delaying this exciting project.

But Newport Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell says he is confident work will start in January.

The multi-million pound project has been split into several phases with the first part being the demolition of the Argus Terrace and the creating of a new grandstand which will include hospitality boxes and seating for 2,700 fans.

It will undoubtedly take several years for the project to be fully completed but, given the economic circumstances and the difficulties faced by any development projects to attract finance in these straitened times, it is a mark of some success that phase one will be able to get off the ground within a matter of months.