How Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham are bringing football home
London may be well known internationally for its high-end real estate, but a few big developments are helping to expand that reputation and solidify London as a true footballing city. Three major stadiums are currently in development, that are looking to transform London’s ever-changing skyline into football’s holy city.
Football originated in England and was then exported to the globe – could this be the year when football comes home again? Here’s an overview of the three stadiums proposed and what they’ll bring to the city.
Tottenham and the NFL
Tottenham’s plan is for a completely new stadium on the current site of White Hart Lane will rival Arsenal’s Emirates as the greatest (and biggest) in London. The Emirates has a max capacity of 60,432, whereas Spurs’ new stadium will accommodate 61,000, making it exactly 0.9398993910510988% bigger. Football is a game of small margins, hence why those extra seats will make all the difference!
The facilities are also built with another sport in mind: American Football. Tottenham have signed a deal with the NFL for a 10-year contract to host at least two games a season in its international series, bringing the club £3 million per game. The stadium will therefore have a much larger dressing room than usual, and also a retractable pitch with an AstroTurf top.
As Chairman Daniel Levy says, the world-class facilities – the pitch, the accommodation, and the extreme sports building (there is a skywalk proposed for top of the stadium) – will make this project not just a football stadium, but “an iconic landmark, instantly recognisable around the world and capable of acting as the catalyst needed to kick-start the regeneration of this area.”
The club is hoping for the stadium to rejuvenate the area and become a landmark. There are hopes that it will become a tourist attraction in itself, turning Spurs into a global hub of activity.
West Ham and the Olympic Stadium
West Ham will move from the historic Upton Park, where they have played since 1904, to the 54,000-seater stadium in Stratford next summer. Thanks to the greater capacity and price cuts, they have already sold more season tickets for next year than at any other time in the club’s history.
The club has, however, courted controversy with the city after their 99-year lease of the Olympic Stadium. Although the stadium cost £247m to convert into a football ground, West Ham have only contributed £15m of that sum, which some see as wholly unfair for a club in the richest league in the world. It’s become something of a shady deal, with taxpayers concerned they may end up contributing unwittingly to heating and lighting costs.
But though controversial, it does guarantee the stadium will be used all year around. Part of the deal also includes a month every summer where it will be run by UK athletics.
Chelsea and Roman Abramovich
Chelsea’s grand design sees acclaimed architects Herzog & de Meuron create a stunning brick-finished stadium in a redevelopment of the old Stamford Bridge. The new ground, ready in 2020, will have cathedral-like vaults and pillars mixed with glass panes, giving fans an almost religious experience every week.
Chelsea may be struggling this season, with many bookmakers tipping Jose Mourinho to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked. But where they are not struggling, is in the bank. Their Russian multi-billionaire owner, Mr. Abramovich, is funding the £600 million transformation out of his own personal account alone, and not the holding company.
A big change will be to the layout, with fans getting direct access to Fulham Broadway Station, but the most important improvement will be the capacity, which is rising to 60,000. This brings Chelsea level with their nearest rivals: Arsenal, Manchester United, and (soon-to-be) Tottenham.
Is London the Top Global Footballing City?
London has been a haven of football ever since it began life at old Highbury, Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane. All now slightly old, tired and creaking, the new developments will bring London right up to par and capacity, matching anywhere in Europe and beyond.
What makes London even more special is the density of stadiums. Spain and Germany may have some impressive stadiums, but all are spread across numerous cities. By contrast, there are at least 15 league clubs within the M25, which can host accumulative total of 350,233 people. This is without factoring in Wembley (90,000) and the Olympic Stadium (54,000).
Barcelona’s 99,000 Camp Nou and Pyongyang’s 150,000 Rungrado 1st May Stadium may have sheer size on their side, but nothing beats the quantity and variety of the Big Smoke.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Alexander Kachkaev.