03/09/2012 08:00 AM
Both the club and the local authority have signed an agreement that will mean the League One side assumes full ownership of the lease on the ground for the next 99 years. While an operational handover will take place on September 1st, signalling the formal commencement of this deal, there has already been a ceremonial event when Doncaster played York City in the Capital One Cup on August 11th, coinciding with the first competitive game of the new season.
Doncaster moved to the Keepmoat Stadium in 2007, after deciding to relocate from their aging Belle Vue ground. The council funded the £32 million construction of the stadium, which was undertaken by the authority's Stadium Management Company (SMC), and since its completion, the club have been tenants at the community ground. However, this agreement means that Rovers will become the owners of the Keepmoat, which is also used by ladies football team Doncaster Rovers Belles, as well as rugby league and athletics teams.
Gavin Baldwin, chief executive of the team, said: "Since the club moved from Belle Vue five years ago, fans have always felt the difference - as tenants the stadium didn’t truly feel like their home. We are working with them to develop strong relationships and make positive changes."
Officials have been quick to stamp their authority on the Keepmoat, with one of the first pieces of action being taken is renaming the club's onsite bar, the Belle Vue bar. The decision was brought about following a supporters' poll and looks to highlight the history of the south Yorkshire side.
Following their relegation from the Championship last season, Doncaster have taken to life in League One well and currently lie in fifth place after amassing six points from their opening three matches. They have also progressed to the third round of the Capital One Cup after dispatching of York and Championship side Hull City to earn a tie away at the Premier League's Norwich City.
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