With London mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to approve Chelsea’s new stadium, one of the final hurdles in the process of seeing Stamford Bridge rebuilt has been passed.
However, after half a decade of rumours and plans to rebuild Chelsea’s famous stadium now settled, what can we expect from the club’s new iconic home?
What is Chelsea’s new stadium?
An early illustation of the new stadium by Herzog de Meuron
Designed by the same practice which bought Beijing’s famous Bird’s Nest stadium to the world at the 2008 Olympics, Swiss practice Herzog de Meuron plans to rebuild Stamford Bridge as a spectacular £500m arena.
The main stadium will be encased in a mammoth brick carcass, aimed at making it one of the most recognisable in the Premier League.
It will cater for 60,000 fans – up from the current 41,600 capacity and close to both Arsenal’s current capacity at the Emirates and Tottenham’s new ground at White Hart Lane.
According to de Meuron, the design has been inspired by Westminster Abbey but also aims to complement the local brick vernacular of the west London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.
To accommodate the supersized stadium, Chelsea negotiated with Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the GLA to deck over the railway lines to the north and east of the current stadium to help provide 8,200 sq m of space for fans and vehicle access.
What will Chelsea’s new stadium replace?
Chelsea’s current ground was initially built in 1877 by the London Athletic Club and became the home of Chelsea FC in 1905 after neighbouring club Fulham turned down an offer to take up residence at the site.
In 1904, a new arena was planned which would include a stand with a 5,000 capacity as well as an open bowl around the rest of the pitch built using the excavated material from the construction of the Piccadilly line.
Original capacity stood at 100,000 and in 1935 82,905 fans crammed in to watch the London derby against Arsenal.
Building a new home brick by brick
According to the plans the new stadium will need approximately six million bricks to build – the equivalent of 200 London homes.
It was reported last May that the football club was considering buying a brickworks to cut the risk of delays to the project.
Realising Roman Abromavich’s grand vision
Chelsea’s owner Roman Abromavich has long held ambitions to build the club a stadium which could compete with others in the Premier League such as Manchester United’s home at Old Trafford.
Apart from rebuilding Stamford Bridge other venues such as Earls Court, White City and even Battersea Power Station were considered.
However, the club faced opposition from supporters and the Chelsea Pitch Owners plc, which stipulated that the club needed to change their name if they moved from Stamford Bridge.
So can construction now get going?
According to Chelsea’s statement released today, a “number of steps lie ahead, both during and after the planning process, before construction work can commence”.
One of these could be ironing out the fine detail of any section 106 commitment.
According to Hammersmith & Fulham, the new stadium will deliver £22m in community benefits to the borough including £3.75m for affordable housing, £12m for community facilities and services, community outreach programmes and better leisure facilities.
Chelsea have also promised £6m towards new CCTV coverage of the area, improved transport routes to and from the ground and other environmental improvements.
Construction itself is expected to take three years.
When will the new stadium be complete?
Initial estimates indicate that the stadium will be ready in time for Chelsea’s 2021/22 season.
In the meantime the club have to either decide to stay at their current home while it is rebuilt – which is expected to be a costly option – or find a new venue such as Wembley or Twickenham (both of which have been mooted as options) while construction progresses.
Chelsea's new £500m stadium: All you need to know