British soccer team Chelsea FC has submitted plans to the local authorities to construct a new 60,000-seat stadium at Stamford Bridge, their current home ground. The proposal, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, brings with it a price tag of $750 million. The Swiss duo are known for their stadia designs, notably with the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, the Allianz Arena in Munich, and a wispy venue in Bordeaux.
As part of the application, the club will demolish the current playing arena along with the surrounding buildings which include a hotel and an array of restaurants. The submission will be reviewed by Hammersmith & Fulham Council who has have said they will accept comments regarding the new stadium up until 8 January, 2016.
According to the club website the development will create “an outstanding view of the stadium from every seat” and “an arena designed to create an exciting atmosphere,” something Stamford Bridge is known for lacking. Away fans have regularly (and easily) been heard taunting, “Is this a library?” Aside from this, the new stadium will also offer “direct access to and from Fulham Broadway Station, making travel more efficient stadium facilities improved for every area.”
Transport facilities will be boosted with excavation work and the addition of larger station entrances, along with new decking platforms over the District Line (underground) and the overground mainline railway services. During construction, Chelsea will either play at Wembley in North West London, or Twickenham rugby stadium which is much further West.
Capacity, however, is the club’s main priority. Currently at 41,837, which is relatively meagre compared to the likes of competitive rivals Manchester United (75,731), Arsenal (60,362) and Manchester City (55,097), both the club and the fans want more. Even Newcastle United and Aston Villa who (at the time of writing) sit at the bottom of the table boast higher capacity stadia, holding 52,409 and 42,788 respectively.
Sixty thousand still seems relatively small, especially when you compare to 1935, when an attendance of 82,905 (standing) piled in to watch Chelsea vs. Arsenal. Space, though, is hard to come by in West London. Perhaps then, this will suffice, especially when you consider that Chelsea has already attempted previous avenues for expansion, notably with the Billion dollar Battersea Power Station proposal which they were pipped to by a Malaysian property developer.
Chelsea FC, so far, can claim the crown of being the only professional London club to have never relocated with Stamford Bridge being their home since 1905. Back then the prolific stadium architect, Archibald Leitch added Chelsea to his growing portfolio and later on, KSS Design group developed the stadium, essentially making it what it is today. Oddly West London neighbors and rivals Queens Park Rangers are the most nomadic football club in London, having relocated 16 times.
Other commentators have told AN that the decision is speculative one given Chelsea’s recent demise in their domestic Premier League.