Sale Sharks are joining Salford City Reds at their home stadium in a new ground share deal.
It is hoped that the ground share with Rugby League club Salford City Reds to their new 12,000 capacity home will help the Sharks to grow their support base and allow the club to grow sustainably.
The Sharks have signed a 25-year lease for the stadium, including a review period after five seasons.
The first game the Sharks will play at the Salford City Stadium will be a friendly match versus Heineken Cup holders Leinster on Saturday August 29 ahead of the new Aviva Premiership season in September.
The new ground is close to the Barton High Level Bridge on the M60 motorway and can be accessed along the A57 from Junction 11, or along the same road from Warrington and Irlam in the west.
Speaking about the move, Sharks’ co-owner Ian Blackhurst said: “This is a tremendous move for Sale Sharks, and the first class facilities at the Salford City Stadium will provide a great platform as we aim to become one of the top club rugby union sides in Europe.
"The more we grow our support base, the more we can invest in the team and our support programmes, and this investment will give us a greater chance of success.”
All 12,000 spectators will be under cover with unimpaired views of the game on a pitch which has been purpose built for rugby. The stadium has a retro-fit to allow expansion to a capacity of 20,000 if required in the future.
Sale Sharks currently share Edgeley Park with Stockport County Football Club and the stadium did not meet the Professional Game Board’s Minimum Standards Criteria, resulting in substantial fines for the Sharks.
Disabled supporters’ facilities, floodlights and medical room provision were adjudged to be below the required standard and the move to Salford City Stadium will allow the club to meet these requirements.
The club completed a survey with lapsed supporters in 2011 asking why they did not now attend Sale Sharks games. Over 25,000 supporters were contacted and almost 20% stated the facilities at Edgeley Park as the reason they had stopped attending.
Councillor John Merry, Leader of Salford City Council, expressed his delight at the news.
He said: “We built this stadium because we wanted to have top class sporting facilities in Salford, and that’s just what we’ve got.
"We want people to get as much benefit as possible out of the stadium, and having both rugby league and rugby union based under the one roof will really make the most of the facilities on offer.”
The Sharks are making efforts to reduce the disruption the move may cause to existing supporters and are planning to implement a park and ride scheme to the new stadium.
Shuttle services from The Trafford Centre, local train and tram stations, Stockport, local rugby clubs and other outlying towns and regions will also be set up by the club.
David Tarry, CEO of Salford City Reds, welcomed the arrival of Sale Sharks to the brand new stadium.
He said: “It is a real boost for the city of Salford to have an elite club from both codes within its boundaries, and playing in what will now be widely recognised as a landmark Rugby venue will help to drastically increase the profile of both clubs.
"We would like to welcome Sale to the Salford City Stadium and wish them every success here – if we both thrive as expected it will be a real boost for all concerned.”