The site of Arlington Stadium, the home of speedway in Eastbourne for more than 50 years, could be developed for housing and retail use, it has been exclusively revealed.
That’s the grim news facing Eastbourne’s speedway fans after the club’s 71-year-old owner Bob Dugard revealed he will not be able to bankroll the Eagles any longer.
“We have been running at a loss for the last 30 years.
“But now we are losing £200,000 pounds a year at the moment,” said Mr Dugard, who owns the stadium together with his 59-year-old brother Eric.
“It’s got beyond a joke now. We are happy to run the club if it can survive. But it’s now impossible.
“You need a car to get to the stadium and people don’t have the money. Things are very tight for everyone with the cost of petrol and actually running a car it’s very hard.
“We have been running stock car racing at the stadium since the 1950s and luckily that’s been subsiding the speedway.”
Mr Dugard revealed to the Herald that ambitious plans were drawn up 15 years ago to develop land around the stadium in an attempt to make the speedway venue viable.
“It would have been something the South East would have been proud of,” said the Eastbourne Eagles promoter.
“It was based on exactly the same style and design as the one Prince Charles proposed for the West Country. It was a beautiful plan but it was like hitting a brick wall with the council here.
“They kept saying it was the wrong side of the A22.”
Wealden District Council has already approved plans to build 1,300 new homes in Hailsham and Hellingly up until 2027, but to the west of the A22.
“If the council would give us the time of the day they would realise it could be a terrific opportunity,” said Mr Dugard.
“We have been trying to develop the area for a long time. There is an application in for development and we think the actual stadium is worth between £15 to 20 million for new build homes development.
“It’s sad to say but I think the venue will be lost eventually if it’s not supportable.
“It might not happen in my lifetime. But it could happen in my brother’s lifetime.
“It would be a perfect site.”
With Birmingham’s speedway outfit recently folding, the latest announcement could be the end of the road for the Eagles and also has dire implications for the Elite Speedway League which has drastically reduced in size with just eight clubs remaining.
Arlington Stadium was originally used by a local motorbike club when it opened on August 5 1929. See the back page.