The saga of Herzog & de Meuron’s Westminster Abbey-inspired replacement stadium for Chelsea FC has sputtered to a final conclusion after the delay- and lawsuit-plagued $1.3 billion project was put on indefinite hold during its pre-construction phases in May 2018 due to the “unfavorable investment climate.”
As reported by Building Design, planning permission, first granted in 2017, expired on March 31. The club made no effort to proceed with redevelopment work within the past three years, which, in turn, has rendered the project nullified. The neo-gothic brick behemoth, ringed by 264 buttresses, would have replaced Chelsea FC’s current 41,0000-seat-capacity South West London home, the venerable Stamford Bridge stadium, as well as some of the surrounding buildings. If the highly distinctive new stadium, described by Herzog & de Meuron as a “cathedral of football,” were to have proceeded, it would have provided the club with a significant increase in capacity by 19,000 seats. The hulking complex would have also included retail, a museum, full-service restaurant, and other amenities.
In addition to facing a sweep of legal challenges mounted by neighboring residents and businesses, the proposed stadium’s short, turbulent life was also hampered by visa-related drama involving Chelsea FC’s owner, the billionaire Russian-Israeli oligarch, Roman Abramovich. Despite local protest, the stadium did have a glowing fan in the form of London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, who referred to the proposed facility as “a jewel in London’s sporting crown.”
Other peerless (completed) sporting venues designed by Herzog & de Meuron include Beijing National Stadium (aka the Bird’s Nest) with Ai Weiwei, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Munich’s Allianz Arena, and St Jacob-Park in the Pritzker Prize-winning firm’s home base of Basel, Switzerland.