The Rec is the spiritual and historic home of Bath Rugby, with the club playing its first match there in 1894.
Bath Rugby’s facilities occupy approximately one quarter of the Recreation Ground which is owned and operated by Bath Recreation Ground Trust, an independent charity. The remaining three quarters of the Recreation Ground is dedicated to Bath’s leisure centre and associated parking facilities, croquet lawns, all weather five-a-side football pitches and open grassed land used for sports and other events.
The purpose of the Bath Recreation Ground Trust is the provision of property in or near Bath for use in outdoor recreational facilities for the benefit of the public. The income received from its primary tenants (Bath Leisure Centre and Bath Rugby), enables the charity to continue investing in the provision of a wide range of sporting and recreational facilities including events at the Recreation Ground, and more widely across Bath. Redevelopment would secure Bath Rugby as a long-term tenant and provide a long-term source of funding for Bath Recreation Ground Trust in furthering its charitable activities.
Bath Rugby’s current facilities comprise a mix of permanent buildings and stands dating as far back as the 1950s, together with a series of temporary stands. The stadium experience falls well below the standards expected in the professional game, and the facilities are considered by some to be a blight on the architectural landscape of Bath. The adjoining riverside area, which could be a jewel in the city’s crown, is likewise in desperate need of revitalisation.
Whilst there has been recent appetite and ambition to redevelop the site, it has been necessary to clarify the potential parameters for any redevelopment. The ruling of the Charity First-Tier Tribunal in December 2016 regarding the Recreation Ground has finally provided clarity over the site. Following this decision, the powers of Bath Recreation Ground Trust have been clarified, including its ability to lease the Club additional land for redevelopment.