A DEFEAT last weekend put paid to rugby union side Llanelli's European Cup run but its new stadium is one step closer after the club picked a contractor to build it.
The Celtic League side's backer, Carmarthenshire County Council, has gone for the surprise choice of Costain in a deal worth around £45 million.
The firm was one of three in the lineout but sidestepped rival bids from specialist stadium builder Barr and Interserve, which built nearby Swansea City's new football ground. Sources at both outfits confirmed they had been dropped from the team. One added: 'We think the stadium was worth around £30 million but there was never a value nailed on while we were bidding.
'The scheme had so many different elements it was difficult to know how much it would end up being worth in total but the council's estimate of £45 million seems about right.' The Scarlets currently play their games at the 10,800-capacity Stradey Park but have been unable to redevelop the site due to a lack of funding.
Now the west Wales club is planning a move to a 15,000-capacity stadium after council chiefs accepted plans to build it on a local authority-owned site in nearby Pemberton last month.
Llanelli has formed a partnership with the council to provide the facilities to exploit rising rugby union attendances and the club's success. The Scarlets were put to the sword in the Heineken Cup but are the reigning champions in the Celtic League and are currently in fifth place this season.
Work will include building the stadium and an athletics track with a 500seat stand, a gymnastics facility, a second pitch and a centre of excellence to bring on the club's young players.
The development is being funded through a mix of grant aid and commercial work at the site, which will include some retail units, a Travel Lodge hotel, a community centre for Dyfed Powys police and ground improvements to allow for future commercial expansion.