Brighton & Hove Albion FC are bidding for their award-winning Amex Stadium to be a host venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but Southampton stand in their way with a rival bid.
If the Amex is chosen as a venue for the competition, it would play host to either two or three category two matches, meaning that England or a fellow home nation could play a smaller rugby nation such as Tonga or Western Samoa.
Rugby chiefs have already visited the Seagulls’ stadium and were said to be impressed with the facilities on offer. Event organisers are planning to have one venue for the World Cup on the south coast, with Southampton FC the other contenders with the St Mary’s Stadium, first opened in 2001.
St Mary’s has a potential capacity over 32,000, which will be higher than the Amex is envisioned to hold in 2015. Furthermore, the on-site parking facilities are set to be an advantage for Southampton, while the spread of venues would be improved should the RFU choose St Mary’s, being 12 miles further from London.
Having said all that, the Amex is the newer ground and was recently awarded the title of “World’s best new stadia”, beating the new venue from Italian giants Juventus. The tournament is taking place in September, during an international break, so any fears of pitch-damage have been quashed.
Other venues in the mix across the UK include Wembley, the Olympic Stadium, the Emirates, Villa Park, Pride Park, Old Trafford and St James’ Park.