|Chairman Nick Higgs|
Twitter exploded in to life during the meeting, with Gasheads using the hashtag I coined last night on my Twitter account (@HarddToBeatt) - #UWEStadiumDay in tandem with their thoughts on proceedings. The Official Rovers Twitter feed offered fantastic updates every couple of minutes for those who were unable/unwilling to watch the meeting take place online via the Bristol City Council's live web feed. I sat and watched it through myself knowing full well that our future depended on a positive outcome. Was I confident? Quietly, but I also knew that this was Rovers and that means you should always expect the worst to happen!
When it came down to the councillors' thoughts, it became clear quite quickly that a couple of them were going to oppose the application. They were the sort of people who seemed like they would object against any development because they don't like change which, in my book, is not the mindset councillors in a city like Bristol should have. Still, more positive vibes were soon emitted from the voter's stand as a couple of them began to look at the 'bigger picture' and accentuate the plus points to the application. In fact Steve Comer, of the Labour party, voiced a fine speech in total support of the plans, refuting fears that Gloucester Road's businesses would lose custom because the vast majority of them are specialist stores. He went on to say that an international standard stadium is required in Bristol and claimed that the rest of the country are watching the city and questioning whether they can make 'big decisions'. His passionate, well thought out speech made for tremendous listening and I'm sure it inspired the people around him. Other voters then went on to support the application, even City fan Colin Smith, as he put his allegiances to one side in order to back the plans and that certainly helped swing the balance. Councillor Windows, who was chair of the meeting, backed the bigger picture at the end to cap a 6-3 majority who were in favour. We'd done it!
A huge thank you and well done to chairman Nick Higgs, who looks set to deliver what no other Rovers chairman has done before - a big all-seater arena. He will go down in folklore having secured this and he received a hero's welcome from Gasheads who watched the meeting live at the Mem via a large screen when he entered at half 9. I'd also like to congratulate and send my appreciations on to UWE for their help with our stadium plans and Sainsbury's for coming up with a feasible and thoughtful application for the Mem site.
When commenting earlier in the meeting, Nick Higgs, explained that Rovers can aim for the 'top flight and not League Two' now in the future and that was met with rapturous applause. He explained that the stadium could bring international football and rugby to Bristol as it meets certain standards. Whether or not the rugby club will follow us to UWE remains to be seen but it does seem unlikely with their owner being Steve Lansdown, the former Bristol City chairman.
Now this is secured our priority has to be turning things around on the pitch and hopefully we can now make some signings who will strengthen us. Just who any of the potential new players will be is anyone's guess but these plans can only aid us in our quest to attract them to Rovers. Go on Nick, support John Ward financially and ensure we are a Football League club at the end of the season.
It's been a fantastic day that we'll always remember with huge fondness. We managed to get #UWEStadiumDay trending in the UK on Twitter and I'm confident that all Rovers fans will always celebrate January 16th as a national holiday!
I'll leave you with a picture of what our new home will look like, just to whet your appetite. Enjoy!