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Never Give Up On Odsal
By Ray Allen

Odsal in the Seventies
(Pic: Graeme Frost)

Incredible that it is now over two decades since the bikes fell silent at Odsal in 1997.

At the start of the year there seemed to be some hope for a revival, but this appears to be hampered by problems with the corners and the pitch requirements for the Rugby?

Such a shame that the efforts of those involved come unstuck on something that should not be beyond the "wit of man" to overcome. I mean, we can send man to the moon but we can't get speedway back into Odsal?

There is yet more "talk" of Odsal being redeveloped as a sporting centre, as I am now into my fifth decade of Odsal being "redeveloped" I won't hold my breath.

Speedway really needs to start to show some enterprise and resistance to its shrinking market. I look down the list of defunct tracks and it's a scandal they way this sport has allowed itself to be pushed out to "the margins". Speedway needs to start fighting back and the BSPA should come together to try to make that happen.

If it was possible to bring traditional Speedway homes like Odsal and Brandon (Coventry) back into the fold that would for me represent some sort of "statement of intent" that Speedway can have some sort of future as a professional sport into the next decade and beyond.

Odsal was not the greatest stadium for Speedway but it was most definitely was (and still could be be) a great track and place for Speedway. We should not give up on it or a revival of any sort in West Yorkshire.


This article was first published on 21st July 2019

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  • JIm Henry:

    "Bravo Ray Allen. I hope you get more than me to back your rallying call! It would be great to see Odsal, Coventry and Oxford back in the fold. Speedway folks must engage in the planning process both at the statutory plan preparation stage as well as the development management stage when other uses are being proposed. Planning authorities have to plan for communities and there is scope for local planning communities to get involved (guidance advises that in the context of planning that communities can be geographically or interest based.) The trouble is once abandoned so many stadiums are altered to stop speedway coming back without a massive investment. Again - well done Ray - hope this sparks off a revival. "

  • Richard Watson:

    "It all comes down to the ability to draw crowds and make money. Sadly speedway seems to be struggling to do either, so why would anyone invest in Odsal? If the rugby team move out then I can see the council selling the place (for landfill, which is how it was sculpted in the first place). If the rugby stays then their pitch corners prevent a track being laid. Just one thing though - "not the greatest stadium for speedway" ??? Do we have a better one in this country? One where you can get up close and have such a great view, with no dog track? Belle Vue is pretty good but only along the straights - nowhere else comes close to Odsal!"

  • Andrew Gallon:

    "Fighting talk that will, I fear, fall on deaf ears. I was an occasional attendee at Odsal for Bradford speedway meetings during the last few seasons of operations there. Yes, the stadium offered a good view of a decent racetrack - but nobody went!

    In the final season, when Odsal crowds sometimes struggled to reach four figures, despite Bradford topping the table, one could stand on the terracing above the first and second bends, and find oneself 40 yards from the nearest spectator. A miserable experience.

    Speedway's audience has declined dramatically even since then, the late 90s. How many now watch live speedway every week? Maybe 18,000 in total? A comeback for crumbling, decaying Odsal? No chance. If Bradford Rugby League Club cannot make Odsal either pay or work (and they attracted 7,500 to the stadium's farewell fixture), what hope is there for a poorly-supported speedway team? Given the parlous state of the sport in Britain, its future little brighter than managed decline, the opening of any additional tracks (either new or revived) seems unlikely. Odsal included."  


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