Stanley Park Stadium
Stanley Park Stadium is a proposed stadium to be built in Stanley Park by Liverpool FC. The stadium was granted planning permission in February 2003. The stadium was scheduled to open in August 2012, however construction never started, apart from some minor site preparation work. Work will not start until economic conditions improve.
The stadium is to be built on a grade 2 listed Victorian park in a predominantly residential area. The proposal was strongly opposed by the local community with opposition groups being formed.
Opening was initially scheduled for 2006 with an approximate capacity of 55,000 seats. Plans were later revised to increase the capacity to 60,000 with the option to expand to over 70,000 if necessary.
The stadium will be centred on a 18,500-seat standalone Spion Kop goal stand. The parabolic roof of the Spion Kop stand is acoustically designed to focus the supporters' volume towards the pitch. The stadium is arranged in a 4 stand configuration not utilizing the corners to maximum effect. The stadium could be used to host matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, should England host the tournament.
It has been reported that, should funding prove sufficiently difficult to acquire, there is a possibility that the stadium will be co-financed by Everton FC, who are had a new stadium rejected in Kirkby. This has been strenuously denied by Liverpool FC's co-owner Tom Hicks.
The stadium was given final planning permission on 19 June 2008 and minor site preparation began on 24 June 2008, before work stopped.
Reservations Over Future Stadium Expansion
It was reported on 28 August 2008 that construction of the stadium would be "delayed in the short-term", but that any delay would be used to re-plan the stadium to increase capacity to 73,000.
There are grave concerns regarding any increase in stadium capacity. The stadium will be in a predominately residential area. The local infrastructure just copes with the existing low capacity 44,000 stadium. Any increase over 60,000 capacity will at least entail a high throughput rapid-transit rail station as a precursor, entailing re-commissioning the adjacent Canada Dock Branch Line for passenger use, and the essential merging into the Merseyrail metro network. The Canada Dock Branch Line is currently being electrified entailing easy integration into Merseyrail of any trains running on the line. Neal Scales of Merseytravel stated that the ballpark cost of station to service the stadium is between £2 and £3 million. The throughput was not stated. A high throughput station is essential. Reports state that constraints over future expansion has led Liverpool FC to re-consider the building of the new stadium at the proposed site, hence the delay in construction.
No Rapid-Transit Merseyrail Connections Stipulated
In London, such a large stadium of 60,000 would not be given planning permission unless provision for a rapid-transit rail link was incorporated within the stadium plan, especially when it would not be difficult to link to an adjacent line. Lords Cricket Ground is considering installing a station under their Nursery End below a newly proposed stand to give direct access to fans.
Strangely, there is no policy in the city of Liverpool to use the available excellent rapid transit rail network for large venues. Merseyrail is the largest urban rapid-transit rail network outside of London. There are suitable mothballed and freight only lines ready for use to serve the stadia of Liverpool FC and Everton FC. Rapid-transit for Liverpool FC and Everton FC Having both clubs and the Kings Dock Arena on a city-wide rapid-transit Outer Rail loop would solve many problems in one swoop. Financially this is the next best approach to a shared stadium. The local communities also benefit by having metro lines running through their districts, creating economic growth.
High throughput rapid-transit rail reduces the nuisance to residents, road congestion and parking, especially if the fans have direct access to the stadium from at the station.
The official Liverpool FC web site states:
"We will use this period productively and progress the proposals for the stadium to increase its capacity to 73,000 seats."
This would mean a rapid-transit rail link would have to be incorporated in the new design.
The Daily Telegraph reported in 2008, "there are now serious doubts over whether the two Americans will raise the necessary finance for a project that is estimated to cost £350 million. Next year, they must also either extend or refinance the £350 million loan that they took out with the Royal Bank of Scotland and the American bank, Wachovia, in January. The latest setback to the credibility of Hicks and Gillett has prompted renewed calls for them to sell the club, with Dubai International Capital's takeover offer of about £400 million still on the table."
The example of Arsenal's Emirates stadium and how they went it alone to great success must be examined. The availability of rapid-transit rail around the stadium site enabled Arsenal FC to build the stadium alone without a major business partner. The rapid-transit rail was key in the success. The projected high attendances enabled the club to repay the loans without a partner. This approach would entail Liverpool FC dispensing with business partners.
Tottenham Hotspur adopted the Arsenal model and were prepared to pay the costs:
- To demolish the 2012 Olympic stadium
- Substantially increase the size of the Crystal Palace athletics stadium
- Build a new stadium on the Olympic stadium site.
The Olympic stadium site is a major junction of rapid-transit rail, which ensured the amazing financial success of Arsenal FC.
Once a business plan is put forward, with projections, financiers would be in a position to lend. Premier League football has not shown a decline since the Credit Crunch. Far from it. If anything it is a surefire winner financing a large Premiership club in infrastructure.
To a financier, the club does not need to win silver trophies, just compete at the top and earn enough to pay back the loans. The longevity of top Premier football clubs ensures the business is unlikely to fold with repayment assured in the long term.
Club Still Optimistic
Construction was scheduled for 2006. Liverpool FC's Chief Executive Rick Parry announced in October 2008 that although the stadium would still be built, work would be delayed until economic conditions improve. Small scale preliminary site preparation began in 2008 following the City Council's approval of the plans in May, and the stadium was due to be finished by 2011. There is currently no official date for resumption of construction or completion.