English Premier League football club Liverpool has unveiled plans to expand its Anfield home to a capacity of around 58,800 as it bids to end a long-running saga over the future of its historic stadium.
Public consultation and exhibitions on the proposals are scheduled for this week ahead of a planning application, which the club expects to submit in the summer. The redevelopment centres around expansion of Anfield’s Main Stand which could add an additional 8,500 seats taking the stand’s capacity to nearly 21,000 and overall stadium capacity to around 54,000.
The outline proposals for the Anfield Road Stand provide for an increase in its capacity of around 4,800 seats, taking the stadium up to the 58,800 mark. Along with increasing capacity, the plans involve improving fan experience through enhanced concourse areas, better hospitality and a public space outside the stadium that will be designated as a fan zone. Enhanced operational efficiency is also key, while a new podium will improve access into the stadium and create further benefits for fans, such as an additional club retail store.
Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s managing director, said: “In order to move forward with our expansion plans we need to have certainty that we can navigate the complex planning process and secure the support of the community, local home owners, businesses and other key stakeholders. This consultation exercise is an important part of this process. We started this journey just over 18 months ago and a lot of work has already been done, there is still an incredible amount to do, but good progress has been made so far and we are proud to be able to unveil our plans.”
In October 2012, Liverpool confirmed its intention to drive forward with plans to redevelop its Anfield home from its current 45,500 capacity, with the announcement bringing an end to a decade-long saga surrounding the future of the stadium. Fenway Sports Group’s ownership of Liverpool has seen officials wrestle with the choice of redeveloping the club’s iconic home or building a new stadium. The latter option was the one favoured by the troubled regime of Liverpool’s previous American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
As part of 2012’s announcement, Liverpool City Council said it planned to transform the Anfield area with a comprehensive regeneration plan. The council has confirmed that negotiations with property owners are progressing well and all parties are close to agreement. The council needs to purchase the few remaining privately-owned properties around the stadium in order to enable the Main Stand to be expanded. Liverpool said that if planning consent is granted, construction work on the proposed Main Stand could begin early next year and it could be completed in time for the 2016-17 season.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, added: “This is another important step in our ambitions to transform the Anfield area, bringing new jobs, investment and housing. The overall regeneration of Anfield will see £260m (€314.9m/$436.5m) invested in the local community and will deliver hundreds of jobs – Liverpool Football Club's proposals for the stadium are a key part of this.”