In Old Trafford, Manchester United boast England’s largest capacity venue (just under 75,000), but their rivals are certainly catching up. Both Liverpool (54,000) and Manchester City (55,000) expanded recently, with Tottenham Hotspur (projected 62,000) and Chelsea (projected 60,000) in the works.
West Ham United already have a 60,000 seat home. Man United are looking to increase the Theatre of Dreams to 88,000, and thus make it the second largest in Europe behind only Barcelona’s Camp Nou. It’s going to be a massive challenge to try and get there however. There doesn’t seem to an easy solution, as Old Trafford, given its location, will eventually run of real estate as stadium expansion continues.
“We haven’t left the easiest stand until last,” Manchester United Managing Director Richard Arnold told United We Stand, quoted in the South China Morning Post.
“The South Stand – the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand – is the last unexpanded stand. It is sandwiched in a fairly narrow strip of land between the pitch and the main Manchester to Liverpool railway. There is not much space on either side of the stand, meaning that it is a very complex engineering challenge to deliver. It would be a multi-season challenge and it isn’t certain that there’s a way of doing it which doesn’t render us homeless.”
United don’t have the option of using Wembley Stadium as a temporary home, like Tottenham have done this season and Chelsea are planning to do in the future, Arnold added.
He also indicated that not having a temporary home means potentially spreading out the Old Trafford expansion master plan over the course of a few seasons but even this course of action will be challenging at best, not possible at worst.
“We have the biggest fanbase in the country and we’re not in London, where we could use Wembley,” Arnold added. “So that’s not a light challenge for us and we don’t want to give up the home advantage that we have here.
“Moving elsewhere would be difficult and the logistical issues associated with expanding the South Stand are not negligible. And that’s before you start getting into how big the expanded stadium should be.”
In other words, this is all still in the very early stages.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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