The front page of the Evening Herald on 11th April 1996 unveiled a bold design for a future super-stadium, called the ‘Tradium’, at Home Park. An article inside proclaimed “a unique set of circumstances which have come together at the right time make the city council and Plymouth Argyle certain that the £25 million Central Park ‘tradium’ dream will come true.”
The council’s director of programmes was reported as saying: “This is going to happen. It will be built. There are no obstacles.”
The Tradium was planned to complete in 1999 and, as well as a greatly improved grandstand with 23,000 seats, it would have included conference and entertainment facilities. It would have been situated south of the existing stadium and extended across Gilbert Lane into Cottage Field as well as a corner of Lane End Field (now the Family Tree Field). Once built, the existing stadium would have been demolished.
There appeared to be some tension between Argyle’s chairman, Dan McCauley, and senior members of the council who had been championing the scheme. He reportedly commented like this in September 1997: “Let me make it clear that I am not anti-Tradium. All I need is assurances from the city council on the viability of the project and scope of control the football club will have……… I have reminded Mr Renwick (the council’s director of programmes) that he has stated that the Tradium will be built with or without the inclusion or involvement of Plymouth Argyle.”
By autumn 1997, it looked doubtful whether the project could be funded and the matter was discussed by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on 23rd October 1997. They recommended that the Council should seek another partner who could support the Tradium project. At the full Council meeting in November 1997, it was resolved that:
- Support be given to the Tradium design
- The proposed programme be accepted (Funding bids to Sports Council, Arts Council and Football Trust by 1 May 1998)
- Officers be instructed to negotiate with potential partners
- The Officers and Members initiate the development of a strategy for the park as a whole to be presented to the Leisure Services Committee with a copy to the Council.
Despite such support from the Council, the Tradium scheme never got off the ground and it disappeared from the agenda.