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Few projects capture the interest of the general public quite like football stadiums and as we approach the end of an unusual football season, it seems like an appropriate time to take a look at the changing shape of stadium developments in the UK.

The opening of the 62,000-capacity Tottenham Hotspur stadium in 2019 pushed new boundaries for football stadiums, with the new ground offering a number of unique and interesting features.

As well as featuring the world’s first dividing, retractable football pitch and the UK’s largest single-tier stand, the £1 billion stadium also became home to Europe’s longest bar and even a microbrewery, showing that nowadays stadiums are looking to cater to more than just their fan’s footballing appetite.

Stadiums are often a centre point of the community, and are being planned with that in mind, offering facilities and even homes to benefit their local areas.

Extensions to existing stadiums

In many cases, clubs choose to develop their existing stadiums to offer increased capacity and additional/improved facilities, in order to improve profitability.

Liverpool Football Club are choosing to extend rather than build a new ground. The £60 million extension to the Anfield Road stand (Project ID: 14211048) will provide an additional 4,800 seats, bringing the overall capacity up to 61,000.

In several cases, such as Crystal Palace’s £100 million Selhurst Park development (Project ID: 17438932), this will also enable clubs to meet UEFA regulations around pitch sizes, and make them eligible to host tournament football.

The decision to extend existing grounds may also be driven by land availability - especially for inner-city grounds, planning challenges and budget restrictions. Tough financial conditions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic may encourage clubs longer-term to abandon plans to build entirely new stadiums.

Hospitality is becoming an exceptionally lucrative area for football clubs. “People follow the American model, where hospitality is playing a big part,” says Davendra Dabasia, director for major programmes and infrastructure at Mace. Hospitality has been a particularly successful way of generating revenue at Wembley, the Emirates Stadium and the Etihad Stadium.

Fulham Football Club are an example who chose this path. The Riverside Development at Craven Cottage (Project ID: 05135978), is currently on-going and due to complete on-site in 2021. The £97 million extension is due to increase capacity at Craven Cottage to 29,600 as well as provide state-of-the-art concourses and hospitality lounges on matchdays.

Millwall are another club who seek to expand their stadium, in order to improve the fan experience. Plans are due to be submitted to council to expand the Den stadium in South London to 34,000, as well as flexible commercial space for events and conferencing, another revenue generator in the modern-day stadium.

New builds

Despite many clubs abandoning traditional plans to build new stadiums, some clubs are still choosing to do so.

Most notably is the new Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium (Project ID: 16334343), the new 52,000 capacity ground home to Everton Football Club. Laing O’Rourke is the preferred bidder on the £500 million project, who have submitted detailed planning. Architects described its brick and steel construction as appearing to have “risen from the dock" in tribute to the city's maritime history.

Away from the Premier League, other clubs are also preparing to build new stadiums, one with an environmental focus. Forest Green Rovers have received outline planning consent for a new stadium made entirely out of wood (Project ID: 16039727). The £100 million, 5,000-capacity ground follows the club being officially recognised as the world’s first vegan football club in 2017.

Chelsea Football Club have delayed their plans for the £1 billion redevelopment of Stamford Bridge (Project ID: 15195873), and will be reassessed when ‘financial conditions improve’ according to a statement from the club.

Residential development

Stadiums are increasingly being developed to include residential units. The number of both approvals and submissions for £10 million or more stadium developments, which include residential units, was at its highest level between 2015-19, according to Glenigan data.

This comes as clubs aim to make their developments as economically viable as possible, and also to help schemes progress through planning as they contribute towards local housing targets.

The new £62 million Brentford Community Stadium development (Project ID: 02419209), soon to be completed on-site, comprises 910 residential units. This new 17,250 capacity stadium will be home to both Brentford FC and London Irish RFC.

The new £100 million development at Nottingham Forest (Project ID: 19065197) includes construction of a new three-tiered main stand, as well as improvements to the other three stands to take the capacity up to 38,000. The scheme, yet to be granted detailed planning approval, also comprises 250 one to three bedroom residential units. Buckingham Group has been appointed as the main contractor.

Buckingham Group are currently on-site on the new £22 million stadium development for AFC Wimbledon (Project ID: 13311358). The initial 11,000 capacity stadium development also includes 602 residential units, as part of a wider £350 million development.

Outline plans have been approved for the new 17,500 Power Court stadium (Project ID: 16175820), the future home for Luton Town FC. The £200 million development is to include residential units, and Newlands Park, a new shopping and leisure park which would fund the ground.

However, Gary Sweet, CEO of Luton Town, announced that both the Power Court Stadium and Newlands Park will be delayed due to the tough economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Future stadium developments

As the top-tiers of English football become increasingly commercialised, it is becoming vital for clubs to become more profitable; generating revenue off the pitch, in areas such as hospitality and events, as well as on the pitch.

It’s clear to see that clubs are also adapting to the role that they now play within their wider communities, and developing facilities and residential units to benefit their local areas.

From a construction perspective, this offers a number of new opportunities that simply didn’t exist in the past, and with more stadium developments involving residential elements, that is good news.

Glenigan customers can find details on all stadium developments on our platform. Non-customers can request a demo for more details.