Bradford Bulls will return to play at Odsal Stadium this weekend – less than two years since they quit their historic home.
John Kear’s side will face Championship rivals York City Knights on Sunday, where capacity has been limited to 4,000, after signing an 18-month tenancy agreement with the Rugby Football League.
The Bulls have not played at the iconic stadium since beating Sheffield Eagles there on September 1, 2019 in what was billed as ‘the last-ever game at Odsal’.
They moved out due to the costs of renting and maintaining the site and have since ground-shared with Dewsbury Rams’ Tetley’s Stadium.
Now, though, the club led by Nigel Wood will return to Odsal and the former RFL supremo said: “The club are delighted to confirm that its fixture against York will be staged at Odsal Stadium.
“While the stadium it is not yet exactly as we want it to be, and there is still work to do yet, nevertheless it provides the best opportunity to allow most supporters the chance to view the action in person.
“The match will have a limited capacity in line with COVID protocols and we ask for everyone’s understanding in that regard.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks to our friends York City Knights and Newcastle Thunder for agreeing to play on a slightly narrower pitch than usual while refurbishment work continues.
“We would like to thank all staff, volunteers, businesses and organisations who have helped “Bring the Bulls Back to Bradford”.
“A fuller acknowledgement to all who have helped will be included in the York match programme, while a particular mention must be made of Mitton whose support has been unstinting.
“We would also thank our temporary landlords and good friends at Dewsbury for their co-operation to date, which we may need to extend for the Toulouse fixture given the pre-existing Music Event.
“Finally, we would like to acknowledge the encouragement of the Local Authority and Judith Cummins MP and the RFL have also been extremely supportive and helpful.”
Odsal has also recently seen the return of stock car racing at the venue, after an absence of 23 years.
It once held a world record crowd of 102,569 for the 1954 Challenge Cup final replay between Warrington and Halifax, and was the scene of Super League triumphs for Bradford during the 1990s era of ‘Bullmania’.
Wood continued: “Odsal Stadium is the venue that came back from the dead. We are not blind to its shortcomings.
“It may be old and it may be basic, but it is our home. There is considerable uncertainty, still around the sport, matters that we cannot control or even influence like central distributions and league structures, so we can only commit to an initial 18 month occupancy while these issues get resolved.
“We hope people can understand that. Getting the Bulls back to Bradford is not the end of the journey and we continue to work positively and collaboratively, with all organisations who can help, to give the supporters the facilities they deserve in 21st century.”