SBD/January 17, 2012/Facilities

Liverpool To Proceed With Original Stadium Plans After Funding Is Secured

Club needs to raise around $231M in sponsorship before it can start building
EPL club Liverpool has “decided to proceed with their original, nine-year-old stadium plans once they have secured the finance to start construction,” according to Chris Bascombe of the London TELEGRAPH. That means the “alternative, futuristic stadium designs proposed” by former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett “have been ditched for good.” It also “ensures there will be no fresh planning application required” by current club owners Fenway Sports Group “to restart construction once a lucrative naming rights package is in place.” FSG has been working with Manchester-based architects AFL, the firm that “first submitted designs when Liverpool announced their intention to move to Stanley Park as far back as 2000.” It is these proposals, which “were put forward for planning permission in 2003 and given the green light a year later, which will become the blueprint for a new 60,000-seat stadium costing around” $462M (all U.S. figures). The club “must still find the finance to kick-start the scheme, and there is no immediate prospect of work beginning, but AFL’s return to preferred status is another significant twist in the seemingly never-ending saga of Liverpool’s ground move.” The AFL plans “were first introduced by former chief executive Rick Parry but were abandoned by Hicks and Gillett shortly after their ill-fated takeover in 2006.” Hicks scrapped the original designs “in favour of those he commissioned from a Dallas-based architecture firm, HKS.” Now Hicks’ “grand scheme has been permanently shelved with FSG deciding it will modernise and upgrade the first set of designs.” Liverpool still needs to “raise around [$231M] in sponsorship -- around half the costs -- before they can start building" any stadium (London TELEGRAPH, 1/17).

KICK START: In Boston, Frank Dell’Apa cites sources as saying that organizers are “planning an exhibition soccer game between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Fenway Park this summer.” The match would be “part of United States tours for both teams, the first since controlling interest in the clubs was purchased by Boston-based investors.” FSG purchased Liverpool in ’10, and Red Sox minority owner Thomas DiBenedetto and Celtics minority owner James Pallotta purchased AS Roma last year. The game would be “part of a tournament involving" EPL club Chelsea and, possibly, Scottish Premier League club Celtic. Matches will also be held “in Chicago (Comiskey Park or Wrigley Field) and New York (Yankee Stadium)” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/17).
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