The Boulevard (stadium)
The Boulevard in May 2006
|Full name||The Boulevard Stadium|
|Location||Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire|
The Boulevard was a multi-purpose stadium in Hull, England. The venue was saved from demolition and reopened on 25 October 2007 as the home of greyhound racing in the city. It was also be used as a community stadium hosting rugby league matches, and speedway. It has since closed and was due for demolition in August 2010.
In the past the ground was used mostly for rugby league matches and was the home stadium of Hull F.C. prior to the opening of KC Stadium. The main entrance was on Airlie Street, giving rise to Hull FC's nickname as 'the Airlie Birds'. When it closed, the stadium's capacity was 10,500 people. It hosted four matches in various Rugby League World Cups. The ground had a strong connection with the city's former fishing industry being not far from Hessle Road.
In 1970, British League Division Two speedway was introduced and proved to be exceedingly popular with large crowds cheering on the Hull Vikings each Wednesday. Hull had the dubious distinction of being the very last league speedway team ever to appear at the famous West Ham Stadium, on 23 May 1972, when they beat the closing Hammers 40-38. Subsequent years saw their promotion to the first division and the inclusion of world champions Barry Briggs, Ivan Mauger and Egon Müller to ride for the team. Promotional changes, falling crowds and financial problems eventually saw the Vikings demise until their resurrection some years later at Hull's other rugby league and speedway stadium, Craven Park.
The Boulevard was also the host of the annual Yorkshire Television Trophy meeting during the 1970's and early 1980's. With the British leagues home to not only the best British riders such as Peter Collins, Dave Jessup and Malcolm Simmons, but also to many top class riders from around the world including Briggs, Mauger, Müller, Ole Olsen, Bruce Penhall and Phil Crump, the meetings often attracted fields which were as good in quality as many World Finals.
The ground consisted of three stands, the most popular being the Threepenny stand, where the majority of singing and chanting occurred. It was given its name when the stadium opened as it was 3 old pence for entry. In July 1985, Hull's threepenny stand closed for safety reasons. A plaque was unveiled on the 'new' threepenny stand some years ago by STAND and Hull FC. It has since been rescued.
In 2003 after Hull FC left its home ground a new promoter gained a lease from Hull City Council for two years with the intention of running greyhounds once again. Whilst they were negotiating for a possible third year the stadium's future looked in doubt due to a hostile takeover by a well known Stainforth promoter and an accountant Philip Webster of Cherry Burton. He failed to file a new lease and do repairs the council considered necessary so they refused to extend the lease.
On 25 October 2007 The Boulevard reopened for greyhound racing for the first time in 28 months. There were eight races in total. The stadium will also be used for reserve rugby league games.
Closure and demolition
On 17 June 2009 it was announced that the Boulevard will close to greyhound racing once again after less than 2 years. After going to once a week racing, promoter Dave Marshall pulled the plug on funding for the stadium. On 22 August 2010, BBC Humberside reported that the stadium was in the process of being demolished after a council inspection due to safety concerns.
- "Dogs back on track at Boulevard". BBC News Online. BBC. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
- "Hull to close Saturday", Racingpost.com, 25 June 2009
- BBC News Humberside 22 August 2010 'Demolition work to begin on Hull FC's Boulevard stadium' Retrieved 22 August 2010.