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Stadium expansion plans: League Two

A surprising number of clubs in England’s fourth tier harbour ambitions to expand their stadiums or relocate, as financial pressures mean that any extra revenue streams can provide a vital lifeline.

CREDIT John Lord_Accrington Stanley Crown Ground

CREDIT John Lord_Accrington Stanley Crown Ground

Source: John Lord

Accrington Stanley

  • Crown Ground (Wham Stadium)
  • Capacity: 5,057
  • Opened: 1968

Accrington Stanley’s Crown Ground opened in 1968 is currently known as Wham Stadium thanks to a naming rights deal.

Despite having one of the smallest budgets of any club in the English Football League, the club last year received planning permission to build a new 1,500-seater stand, the Whinney Hill Stand, to replace the existing North Stand.

Club owner Andy Holt acknowledged opposition to the scheme at the local council’s planning meeting, saying: “I know there have been complaints from residents but they are not really as big a problem as is highlighted. I know it’s a pain for a lot of neighbours but it will be short-term pain and then we will be up and running and have an asset for the town.”

The single-tiered stand could be split to allow segregation of home and away fans and is futureproofed to allow the installation of corporate hospitality boxes should they be needed.

Despite the positive news about this scheme in the summer of 2016, though, work has still not begun.

CREDIT Katie Chan_Barnet Hives

CREDIT Katie Chan_Barnet Hives

Source: Katie Chan

Barnet

  • The Hive Stadium
  • Capacity: 6,418
  • Opened: 2013

The story of Barnet’s move to The Hive from their historic home of Underhill is a classic example of the wrangling that often accompanies new stadium builds.

Construction began on The Hive back in 2013 as a home for Wealdstone FC, but that club’s investment partners went into liquidation the following year, halting construction.

Harrow Borough Council put the site up for tender and Barnet won, initially intending the move to be a temporary arrangement due to an ongoing disagreement with Barnet Borough Council over the lease at Underhill, with plans to build a 10,000-seater stadium within the London borough of Barnet.

That changed in 2015, with the club granted an extended lease to use The Hive for football purposes.

Much of the current stadium is demountable, and the club did extend the North Stand to increase its capacity in 2016. The chairman has indicated that there are plans to build a new South Stand too, as well as upgrade other parts of the ground.

The club does still harbour ambitions of playing back in its home borough, although this looks unlikely in the near future. In the event that they did find a suitable site with financing, though, another new stadium would likely be on the cards.

All you need to know about stadiums

CN presents a detailed assessment of this lucrative but challenging market.

CREDIT Oliver Mallich_Cambridge United Abbey

CREDIT Oliver Mallich_Cambridge United Abbey

Source: Oliver Mallich

Cambridge United

  • Abbey Stadium
  • Capacity: 8,127
  • Opened: 1932

Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium is owned by Grosvenor Developments, and while a relocation of the club has been mooted in the past, recent years have seen a desire to redevelop the existing site.

The most recent plans, revealed in 2015, would have seen the ground’s capacity expanded by 3,000, as well as adding conference facilities.

A new sporting village would be built by Grosvenor in the Trumpington area of Cambridge, too, with funding coming from 520 homes built on greenbelt land in Trumpington.

Neither project has yet come to fruition.

CREDIT John Lord_Carlisle Brunton Park

CREDIT John Lord_Carlisle Brunton Park

Source: John Lord

Carlisle United

  • Brunton Park
  • Capacity: 17,949
  • Opened: 1909

The largest football stadium in England that is not all-seated, Carlisle United’s Brunton Park opened in 1909.

Plans were made to redevelop the ground into a 28,000-capacity all-seater stadium in the mid-1990s, but those were eventually scrapped.

In 2011, the club revealed plans to move to a new stadium in the Kingmoor area in the north of the city, in scheme known as ‘Blue Yonder’.

This idea was also scrapped in November last year, however, as the stadium was predicated on wider development taking place in the area which never came to pass.

Word on further new stadium plans has gone quiet.

CREDIT Liam Taylor_Cheltenham Town Whaddon Road

CREDIT Liam Taylor_Cheltenham Town Whaddon Road

Source: Liam Taylor

Cheltenham Town

  • Whaddon Road (LCI Rail Stadium)
  • Capacity: 7,066
  • Opened: 1927

Cheltenham Town agreed one of the more unusual naming-rights deals with World of Smile back in 2015, before the ground was renamed again in 2015 to become the LCI Rail Stadium.

The club previously considered moving their ground to Cheltenham Racecourse before deciding against it due to financial reasons.

Club director Paul Bence told Gloucestershire Live this month that the club was discussing the possibility of building two new stands: “We have a vision to improve the stadium and we are putting some attractive plans together, using Burton Albion as something to aspire to.

“The amount of money they bring in off the field is phenomenal and if we are given council approval we can definitely take the club on to the next level.”

CREDIT Yellow Book_Chesterfield

CREDIT Yellow Book_Chesterfield

Source: Yellow Book

Chesterfield

  • Proact Stadium
  • Capacity: 10,504
  • Opened: 2010

Built by GB Building Solutions for £13m, the Proact Stadium opened in 2010 as a replacement for Chesterfield’s Saltergate Recreation Ground.

Filling in the corners of the stadium would increase capacity to 13,000, but there are currently no plans to do so.

Colchester United_Community Stadium

Colchester United_Community Stadium

Colchester United

  • Colchester Community Stadium
  • Capacity: 10,105
  • Opened: 2008

Built by Barr Construction and opening in 2008, the Colchester Community Stadium seats just over 10,000 people and has provided a multi-functional home for Colchester United.

There are currently no plans to increase capacity at the ground.

CREDIT Julianne Savage_Coventry City Ricoh Arena

CREDIT Julianne Savage_Coventry City Ricoh Arena

Source: Julianne Savage

Coventry City

  • Ricoh Arena
  • Capacity: 32,609
  • Opened: 2005

Home to Coventry City FC and Wasps rugby union club, the stadium is now owned entirely by Wasps, following years of disputes over rent between Coventry City’s owner SISU and previous stadium owner ACL, which led to Coventry playing in Northampton.

It was reported in 2014 that Wasps were examining the possibility of building an indoor sports and music arena next to the Ricoh, but with the rugby club’s rising debt any new development does not look imminent.

CREDIT Paul Wilkinson_Crawley Town

CREDIT Paul Wilkinson_Crawley Town

Source: Paul Wilkinson

Crawley Town

  • Checkatrade.com Stadium
  • Capacity: 6,134
  • Opened: 1997

Owned by Crawley Borough Council, the Checkatrade.com Stadium is home to Crawley Town, a club that was promoted to the Football League in 2011.

The Crawley Observer revealed in 2014 that preliminary talks had taken place at board level to explore the possibility of building a new stadium, but stressed that no contact with the council had been made at that point, and that funding was not in place.

There has been no further news of stadium redevelopment since then.

CREDIT Paul Wilkinson_Crewe Alexandra

CREDIT Paul Wilkinson_Crewe Alexandra

Source: Paul Wilkinson

Crewe Alexandra

  • Alexandra Stadium (Gresty Road)
  • Capacity: 10,153
  • Opened: 1906

Crewe Alexandra’s stadium was rebuilt in the 1990s to become an all-seater arena.

The Crewe Chronicle reported in 2009 that a revamp of the stadium was being considered to create conference facilities and develop new revenue streams during the economic downturn, but no construction work came to pass.

CREDIT Matthew Wilkinson_Exeter City St James Park

CREDIT Matthew Wilkinson_Exeter City St James Park

Source: Matthew Wilkinson

Exeter City

  • St James Park
  • Capacity: 8,541
  • Opened: 1904

Exeter City is a club that has gone through financial difficulties in recent times, including during a redevelopment of its stadium.

The club won planning permission in 2016 to redevelop its Grandstand, and announced this month that contracts have been signed to carry out that work, as well as replace terracing on the ground’s away end, with work set to start next month.

The club said the stand will cost approximately £3.5m to build, with an overall completion date of October 2018.

Forest Green stadium CGI Zaha Hadid

Forest Green stadium CGI Zaha Hadid

Forest Green Rovers

  • The New Lawn
  • Capacity: 5,032
  • Opened: 2006

In one of the more unusual proposed stadium developments in the world, never mind the UK, Forest Green Rovers has plans to build a 5,000-seater stadium made out of wood.

The club has chosen a design by world-renowned practice Zaha Hadid Architects and while eyebrows were raised when the scheme was first announced, the village team’s remarkable promotion to the Football League this year lends more weight to the project’s credibility.

Owner Vince Dale has pumped money into the club to get it where it is today – so who’s to say he won’t do the same now to create what would surely be one of the most iconic stadiums in English club football?

CREDIT MapsMan_Grimsby Town Blundell Park

CREDIT MapsMan_Grimsby Town Blundell Park

Source: MapsMan

Grimsby Town

  • Blundell Park
  • Capacity: 9,052
  • Opened: 1899

Blundell Park is another one of those historic football grounds that is relatively expensive to maintain and has little in the way of corporate hospitality facilities.

The club has had plans to move to a new stadium for years, with the scheme stalling due to its financial viability and opposition from local residents.

In the most recent version of the plans, developer Extreme Leisure wants to build a 14,000-seater community stadium for Grimsby Town at Peaks Parkway, alongside an ice rink, retail units, 1,400-1,600 homes and a 2,000-space car park.

The plans were initially called in by councillors but were waved through in March this year, paving the way for a detailed planning application to be submitted.

Stadium work: What are the big challenges?

CN takes an in-depth look at this surging sector and speaks to leading figures from the market.

Lincoln City

Lincoln City

Lincoln City

  • Sincil Bank
  • Capacity: 10,120
  • Opened: 1895

Following a stunning FA Cup run in 2016/17, Lincoln City ended the season on a high with promotion back into the Football League.

The club announced in December last year that it would press ahead with plans to build a new stadium in the Beevor Street area of Lincoln, but that it needed a new road bridge to be built first in order to gain access to the site.

Once that is in place, the club hopes to raise the investment required to begin construction.

“By the end of 2017, we would hope to have things in place so we’re ready to press the button,” said chairman Bob Dorrian.

CREDIT Dave Martin_Luton Town Kenilworth Road

CREDIT Dave Martin_Luton Town Kenilworth Road

Source: Dave Martin

Luton Town

  • Kenilworth Road
  • Capacity: 10,356
  • Opened: 1905

Luton Town have been looking to move to a new ground for decades.

With huge regeneration planned for Luton, the time now seems right for a new stadium to finally be built, with plans for a 17,500-seater stadium at Powers Court.

Councillors are currently assessing the plans and will soon issue a recommendation on whether they should be backed, with club chief executive Gary Sweet saying the club had done all it could to make the plans “virtually unchallengeable”.

Watch this space for further concrete developments soon.

CREDIT Peter Bonnett_Mansfield Town

CREDIT Peter Bonnett_Mansfield Town

Source: Peter Bonnett

Mansfield Town

  • Field Mill (One Call Stadium)
  • Capacity: 9,186
  • Opened: 1861

Field Mill is the oldest ground in the Football League, with records showing that football was played here in 1861, and some reports even suggesting it was used as long ago as 1850.

There are no current plans to expand the ground.

CREDIT Ian Taylor_Morecambe_Globe Arena

CREDIT Ian Taylor_Morecambe_Globe Arena

Source: Ian Taylor

Morecambe

  • Globe Arena
  • Capacity: 6,476
  • Opened: 2010

The Globe Arena opened in 2010, named after Warrington-based construction firm Globe Management Services, which fell into administration in 2014.

There are no current plans to expand the ground.

CREDIT John Lord_Newport County

CREDIT John Lord_Newport County

Source: John Lord

Newport County

  • Rodney Parade
  • Capacity: 5,058
  • Opened: 1994

Newport County moved to play their home matches at Rodney Parade, the home of Newport Gwent Dragons rugby union team, in 2012 after 18 years at the Newport Stadium.

The ground is now owned by the Welsh Rugby Union after its sale in March this year.

A number of the stands have been renovated in recent years, but there are no plans for further work at the present time.

CREDIT The Stadium Guide_Notts County Meadow Lane

CREDIT The Stadium Guide_Notts County Meadow Lane

Source: The Stadium Guide

Notts County

  • Meadow Lane
  • Capacity: 20,229
  • Opened: 1910

Sitting across the River Trent from Nottingham Forest’s City Ground, Notts County’s Meadow Lane holds more than 20,000 spectators when full.

The ground was redeveloped to its present state after the Taylor Report, although plans had been in place before that report’s publication.

With attendances usually well below capacity, there are no plans for redevelopment of the ground.

CREDIT John Lord_Port Vale

CREDIT John Lord_Port Vale

Source: John Lord

Port Vale

  • Vale Park
  • Capacity: 19,052
  • Opened: 1950

Port Vale has carried out minor upgrades to floodlights and other facilities at Vale Park in recent years, but there are no major redevelopment plans currently on the cards.

CREDIT Bernard Randall_Stevenage Lamex Stadium

CREDIT Bernard Randall_Stevenage Lamex Stadium

Source: Bernard Randall

Stevenage

  • Broadhall Way (Lamex Stadium)
  • Capacity: 6,722
  • Opened: 1961

Broadhall Way, now known as the Lamex Stadium, last underwent major work in 2001 with the opening of a new stand.

In July 2015 the club received planning permission to build a new North Stand that would include new conference facilities and increase capacity, but work has yet to begin on the project thanks to a legal dispute between the club and the council over the lease.

The stand needs to be upgraded to meet Football League requirements, but the council, which owns the stadium, has refused to help fund improvements, leading club chairman Phil Wallace to claim that the dispute puts the very future of Stevenage FC in doubt.

Swindon Town County Ground

Swindon Town County Ground

Swindon Town

  • County Ground
  • Capacity: 15,728
  • Opened: 1896

Redevelopment of the County Ground has been the preferred option to relocation for some time, but development has stalled due to problems over finance.

Swindon Borough Council currently own the stadium, with Swindon Town Supporters’ Trust launching an ambitious bid to buy the ground themselves.

Once ownership issues are resolved, any ambitions to redevelop could begin to move forward – but if past progress is any indicator, contractors might not want to hold their breath.

CREDIT Dave Dipsy_Wycombe Wanderers Adams Park

CREDIT Dave Dipsy_Wycombe Wanderers Adams Park

Source: Dave Dipsy

Wycombe Wanderers

  • Adams Park
  • Capacity: 10,300
  • Opened: 1990

Wycombe’s Adams Park has been expanded and improved a number of times since it opened in 1990.

When Steve Hayes owned both Wycombe Wanderers and Wasps rugby union club, he proposed a plan to build a new stadium to house both, but that proposal was scrapped when Wycombe District Council withdrew support for the scheme.

Talk of a new stadium has gone quiet since then.

CREDIT Andy Pearce_Yeovil Town

CREDIT Andy Pearce_Yeovil Town

Source: Andy Pearce

Yeovil Town

  • Huish Park
  • Capacity: 9,565
  • Opened: 1990

Yeovil announced plans to build a 3,500-capacity stand in 2011, but the plans were eventually dropped following public consultation.

Minor upgrades and additions have taken place since Huish Park opened in 1990, but there are no plans for major upgrades or relocation currently.

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