We live by much-loved UK stadium – it's been here for 50 years but now it'll be demolished for 1,500 homes & hotel | The Sun

A MUCH-LOVED stadium is set to be closed down for good – and replaced with 1,500 newbuild homes, a leisure centre, and a hotel.

The East of England Showground, home of British speedway team the Peterborough Panthers, has now closed after racing started in 1966.

The Peterborough racetrack and its buildings are set to be demolished for a redevelopment project – with 1,500 homes, a hotel, a primary school, and a care home planned for the 165-acre site.

Fans of the speedway are distraught, calling the demolition "sacrilege" and a "disgrace" and locals want the speedway to stick around, with it bringing in thousands of fans to the town.

It's also the second stadium in Peterborough to be bulldozed, as work has started on demolishing its iconic greyhound racing stadium.

The land the stadium is on is owned by the East of England Agricultural Society, which needs to clear the site as part of selling it.

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On Saturday, the Panthers staged a final event in front of thousands of fans at the track, with a 20-heat event and a grand final that ended with a disastrous crash between two of the four riders.

The riders clipped each other, sending both riders slamming into the back straight fence and crashing down the straight – with a third having to drive into the grass.

Peterborough Panthers owner Keith Chapman said it was a "sad night" as he spoke to the Daily Star about his disappointment about losing the team's home.

"Let's hope it [tonight's event] shows the council what they're going to miss," he said.

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"It [the crash] was a bad way for it to end, but these things do happen and I thought the decision by the referee to call the result was the best one, it's a sad night anyway, but to have that happen in the last race really makes it worse."

The Panthers are now looking for a new home for 2024, but all hope is not lost.

Sport England have submitted an official objection to the redevelopment plans and are in negotiations with Chapman to buy the club.

Other locals have also objected to the development, with one saying the speedway brought people to Peterborough.

"Over the years it has attracted more than one million visitors to the track and the city, providing major cash injections to businesses, hotels etc.

"It has also brought tens of millions of pounds of free publicity to the city because of media coverage, including some 30 years of live TV transmissions of meetings," the petitioner said.

Fans of the club have objected to the redevelopment.

"To let more houses build on this land will be sacrilege and will lose all of the major entertainment in the city. The showground was there long before the houses were built and who needs more hotels," said one fan.

"Absolute disgrace!! The landlords should be ashamed of themselves!"

A statement released by the site's operator, the Asset Earning Power Group (AEPG), said it understood the disappointment over the arena's closure.

They say the site is being sold by the Agricultural Society because it needs to earn income to meet its charitable aims, where the income will go.

"The arrangement to run speedway at the Showground has only ever been on a season-by-season basis and there has never been long-term commitment on either side to continue.

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"The discontinuation of Speedway at the Showground is not new news or a surprise to the Peterborough Panthers, and we are sorry to hear the club has not found a new home in this time."

AEPG has been appointed by the Agricultural Society to promote the land for sale to developers, create a masterplan, and get council permissions.

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