SBD/October 16, 2012/Facilities

Liverpool Plans Multi-Million Dollar Anfield Redevelopment, Increasing Capacity To 60,000

A planning application for redevelopment will be submitted next spring
Fenway Sports Group has "marked the two-year anniversary of its purchase" of EPL club Liverpool by "confirming it wishes to remain at a refurbished, 60,000-capacity Anfield" that will cost approximately $247.7M (all figures U.S.), according to Andy Hunter of the GUARDIAN. The redevelopment "will be funded by the club's own banking facilities and is dependent on Liverpool city council negotiating the purchase, and demolition, of surrounding homes." Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre and the city's Mayor, Joe Anderson, "hailed the decision 'a major step forward' in the wider regeneration of north Liverpool, although no guarantees or plans on the new stadium were provided at the announcement." Ayre did, however, "effectively signal the end of Liverpool's decade-long pursuit of a new stadium on nearby Stanley Park." He said, "Stanley Park is off the table if we can be sure there is a solution [to staying at Anfield] and we believe there is a solution." Hunter writes it is "believed the refurbishment of Anfield will consist of a new Main Stand and Anfield Road end, each to be built behind the existing stands to minimise disruption -- and loss of revenue -- during the season." A planning application is "expected to be submitted next spring." There is no naming-rights deal required for the redevelopment of Anfield, "unlike the new build in Stanley Park." Liverpool's "existing banking arrangements will provide" the estimated cost. Liverpool has "fallen behind their Premier League rivals due to the stalled stadium issue." The club has made $65.8M from "match-day revenue" compared to $174.7M by Manchester United, $149.8M at Arsenal and Chelsea's $108.6M (GUARDIAN, 10/16).

NUTS & BOLTS: In London, Tony Barrett reports Liverpool intends to "use existing banking facilities to finance" the redevelopment of Anfield, which Ayre "insists will not have a negative impact on their ability to compete in the transfer market." With naming rights "dismissed as a non-starter for Anfield, FSG will borrow the money to provide the necessary finance to increase the stadium's capacity." Liverpool is expected to "submit a planning application early next summer and they will do so with the support" of Anderson, who "believes that the trust and leadership needed to bring the club's 12-year stadium saga to an end is now in place." Anderson said, "The difference between dealing with the administration of the club now and dealing with the previous owners (Tom Hicks and George Gillett) is like chalk and cheese. There's an element of trust and collaboration now" (LONDON TIMES, 10/16). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Tariq Panja noted Liverpool had "previously ruled out enlarging Anfield, citing difficulties in getting planning consent." The stadium is located "amid a maze of row houses in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/15). The AP's Rob Harris noted work on a new $800M venue in nearby Stanley Park started in '08 but "was put on hold" by Hicks and Gillett "due to financial shortfalls" (AP, 10/15).

WORK WITH WHAT YOU GOT: In N.Y., Steven Cotton writes, "To those who view Anfield as their spiritual home, it makes perfect sense." The Anfield redevelopment project "may go some way" to defining the legacy of FSG Chair John Henry "among Liverpool supporters and in English soccer as a whole." Liverpool "has yet to confirm the capacity of the new-look Anfield, but the consensus seems to be that it will grow by about 15,000 from its current size." The "obvious need for growth is offset by an equally clear desire to protect the heritage of a site that has been the club’s only home since its formation in 1892." Previous owners of Liverpool have "tried, and failed, to redevelop the stadium because the needs of the local community were not met or respected." The difference "this time, it seems, is that there is finally a willingness from all parties to work together, with a wider regeneration of the area -- not just the stadium -- now planned." There is "genuine hope that Anfield can now follow a blueprint that worked so well at Fenway Park," as Henry "has proved he can strike a balance between sentiment and modernization" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/16).
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