We have received a number of questions around the Castle Vale Stadium so we thought would put together a helpful Q&A with questions sent in from members of the community.
1. Who is Castle Vale Stadium owned and managed by?
The Pioneer Group has leased the stadium facility, and the surrounding grass pitches, from Birmingham City Council for 25 years.
In 2014, the stadium was under threat of closure until The Pioneer Group (local housing & support non-profit organisation) agreed to take over the management. Since then, they have worked with the local community, football teams, County FA and the Football Foundation to increase the site’s potential.
This means that The Pioneer Group are responsible for the upkeep of not just the stadium, but also the three 11-a-side grass pitches directly adjoining us, as well as the grass areas by the old pitch.
2. Do you have to book to use the grass pitches?
All organised football, including training and matches, needs to be booked through our system on www.schoolhire.co.uk. This is so we can manage the full football season and to ensure that your players are insured while enjoying the game. Please note, as per the FA’s rules, each club is still to have their own Public Liability insurance.
Furthermore, this space can be used for alternative bookings such as community activities, other sporting events, support sessions and outdoor events. Therefore in order to accommodate everyone we need to ensure the booking system is used.
3. Do you have to pay to use the grass pitches?
There is a fee to use the grass pitches for organised sessions.
As a community-led non-profit organisation, we recognised that the stadium was a key facility for local residents and worked on a business plan to prevent its closure and retain the facility for community benefit. The fees contribute towards the upkeep of the facility – including the pitches, the employees, equipment and other expenses – therefore, minimises any risk of closure.
We want the focus of the stadium to be on the Castle Vale community, so if there are any Castle Vale teams or clubs that need to discuss their financial concerns with regards to bookings, we encourage you to get in touch for a discussion to see if we can help.
4. Can the stadium charge the community to train on these pitches as they’re owned by the council? Isn’t this covered in through Council Tax?
Birmingham City Council leased the stadium to The Pioneer Group who is responsible for the operations and maintenance of the facility. As a functioning facility, there are costs to maintain the upkeep of the grounds. The costs to hire the pitches are then reinvested in the maintenance of the facility to allow for further bookings.
As the pitches are managed by The Pioneer Group, this means the cost of upkeep is not included in residents Council Tax.
5. Does that mean people can’t use the area as a public space; to meet friends or walk their dog?
No, not at all. We have no intention of stopping families, groups of friends and others using the grass areas.
All that we ask is that people are respectful of the space; don’t leave any litter, make sure you clean up after your dog, and be considerate to any teams training or using the pitches for matches.
6. Are there restrictions to the grass pitches for wider public access to prevent misuse?
We are currently reviewing access to ensure the area remains safe but accessible for local people. We are proactive in responding to any issues that arise, and recently worked closely with local police to tackle issues of anti-social behaviour. We closely monitor usage and respond quickly to any concerns.
7. Where is there open access to communal green spaces in Castle Vale?
Castle Vale has a number of communal green spaces available for residents, including its own green flag Castle Vale Centre Park, Wagtail Walk which connects Farnborough Fields, the park and other green spaces. The Farnborough Fields campus, which has open green space, is one of the best nature conservation areas with a wild meadow. The Pioneer Group are working in close partnership with organisations such as the Community Environmental Trust to improve the availability and quality of green spaces in Castle Vale and their connection to adjoining communal green spaces in Castle Bromwich and beyond.
8. Is Castle Vale Stadium giving the grass pitches to the local school?
There are currently no intentions of disposing the grass pitches. We have a business plan that sets out our priorities for the stadium and fulfilling the potential for the grass pitches is a part of that.
9. Do you have information on the standard of the pitches that users should expect?
We always strive to maintain a quality service for our teams to enjoy the facility at its best.
Sometimes we do face challenges, such as last year when our grounds were subject to intense periods of rain, which resulted in the pitches flooding. While instances like this were out of our control, we worked closely with clubs and teams to find a solution. With support from Castle Vale Town Football Club, we tendered for funding for grass pitch improvements. We are pleased to inform this was successful and we have gained a five year pitch improvement grant with the work commencing in time for the new season.Our team are always working hard behind the scenes to find ways of improving our facilities to make sure we can provide our customers a quality service. If you have any issues or concerns we’d be happy to see what we can do to help.
10. How many teams from the vale play on the stadium or surrounding pitches?
We have a number of local teams and clubs use our facility, including: Castle Vale Town FC, Romulus FC, Birmingham Primary Schools, Castle Vale Olympic FC, CV Concords and Greenwood Academy. Our facilities have also been used by a range of teams across the wider Birmingham area and even professional clubs such as Manchester United FC (Ladies) and Bolton Wanders.
The stadium is also host to a number of other local groups including walking football, local schools and community groups and is regularly used for popular functions and large community events.
11. What was included in the £1m investment for the stadium?
The Pioneer Group put together a plan to leverage investment with the aim to upgrade the playing surface to a state of the art 3G pitch and include wider stadium improvements. Over £750,000 was secured through external funding (from the Football Foundation and The Castle Vale Endowment Trust Fund) to install the 3G pitch and other major improvements. Additionally The Pioneer Group has invested its own resources to upgrade the stadium with improvements including; lighting, car park facilities, stadia seating, function room refurbishment and goal posts. We have also invested in equipment to support health and safety requirements. During the life of the lease the Pioneer Group will have invested over £1m directly into supporting this facility.
12. Doesn’t getting investment from the council mean you don’t charge people to use the pitch?
As previously mentioned, the investment contributed towards upgrading facility infrastructure, improving building and system efficiencies, reducing operating costs and improving the facility environment for customers with the overall intent on expanding the lifespan of the facility for the community.
There are also strict funding conditions which The Pioneer Group have to adhere to, ensuring that the obligations of external investment is met.
So unfortunately, while it means we can’t offer a free service, we try to offer the best service possible at economical rates.