Campaigners have taken their fight to stop a new sports ground being built on public land in South Tyneside to council bosses.
They delivered a 1,668-name online petition and a bundle of 983 letters to South Shields Town Hall yesterday.
Organisers say the signatures against plans by South Shields and Westoe Club’s to switch to Temple Park, were collected in just 10 days.
Club officials hit back, saying almost £6m would be invested in the new ground, making it one of the best in the North East.
They also denied claims it is a private club - insisting anyone could join.
Paul Freeman, 69, of the Friends of Temple Park group, which is behind the protest, said: “People are up in arms about this plan. They are just starting to realise how much of Temple Park will be lost to this club, and they are not happy about that.
“It’s been a great response to our campaign, and I hope it will make a difference.”
The club wants to relocate from its Wood Terrace home, at Westoe, South Shields, to satisfy expansion ambitions.
It hopes to build new rugby and cricket pitches, and squash and tennis facilities at Temple Park.
Its present home would be sold, and 82 detached luxury homes built.
Club chairman Duncan Murray said a new sports ground would give South Tyneside an exceptional facility for all to use.
He also said Temple Park’s existing sports facilities were not being protected from abuse, such as by motorbike riders.
Mr Murray added: “We want everyone in South Tyneside to come along, we want to welcome as many people as possible to the club.
“This development would bring enormous benefits. It would be a tragedy if it was not allowed, it will be a massive loss to the borough.
“Ours is not a private club, we are Community Amateur Sports Club, and anyone can join for around £1.69 a week, or £95 over the year.”
The plans are expected to go before South Tyneside Council by March.
If given the go-ahead, the nine-month development would start almost immediately.
The public can comment on the application, which can be viewed at www.southtyneside.gov.uk, until Wednesday, January 3.
The petition can be found at www.change.org/p/friends-of-temple-park-help-us-to-keep-temple-park-for-public-use