Bradford Bulls consider making Odsal Stadium ‘smaller’ to satisfy IMG criteria

Bradford Bulls remain a huge name in rugby league, despite the days of their Super League rivalries with Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and St Helens firmly a thing of the past for now.

After a number of seasons in the Championship, the Bulls now sit fifth in the second tier and will be hopeful of remaining in the play-off places come the end of the season which will give them a crack at a return to the top-flight.

Despite this, they remain firm outsiders for promotion behind the likes of Featherstone Rovers and Toulouse Olympique, with many feeling Bradford’s best chances of a return to Super League in the near future come from 2025 onwards.

The season after next will see IMG take on the sport of rugby league in the UK, with their radical new grading plans set out to try improve the quality of the game both on and off the field with improved facilities and attendances at the forefront of that.

For the Bulls, the days of those epic Super League nights are for the moment a thing of the past when they used to attract crowds of 20,000, with current crowds now down to 4,000 in the Championship.

Their big Odsal Stadium home remains but with attendances so low, the atmosphere at the famous rugby league venue is probably not what it once was, neither are the facilities with the old ground now looking a little run down.

Plans for a new ‘home of rugby league’ were proposed by Bradford Council but the £50m plan was rejected by the government’s ‘levelling up fund’ and at a fans’ forum event on Tuesday, Bradford Bulls CEO Jason Hirst said the club were now considering other options, including reducing the capacity at Odsal.

“We’re looking at capacity, because do we need it to be 25,000? Even when we were winning the World Club Challenge in the early 2000s, we weren’t getting that,” said Hirst at the forum event, via Telegraph and Argus.

He continued: “It doesn’t look good, having 3,000 people in a 25,000-seater stadium. If it’s smaller, and packed to the rafters, it creates a better atmosphere.

“We’re in discussions with the council, and they’ve asked us what we want, like the LEDs and big screen to satisfy the IMG criteria, but it’s nothing more than that at this stage.

“We’re also chatting to the RFL about our plans, and we’ll give updates.”

As for on the pitch matters, Bradford return to Championship action this Monday when they host Barrow Raiders, before a tough trip to promotion rivals Batley Bulldogs the following Sunday.