Before anyone gets on my back here, I am aware that there is nothing new in this but maybe a welcome review.
Study the picture to the left thoroughly! This is the Arena were we will play our home games for the foreseeable future!
A bit familiar you say? That’s because this is a picture of Boleyn Ground today.
But what happened to the grand plans, the Olympic Stadium and the parcelforce land?
Sorry to say it, but that was yet another bubble that burst.
We are again out of luck with the timing. One of the reasons for BG’s initial interest in our Club was the prospect of moving it to the planned Olympic stadium that is being built in Stratford. That would have increased capacity and in effect remortgage the ground we play at.
What I mean by that is that the Boleyn is something we own and can sell to “free capital” to be used for strengthening the club, but the Olympic Stadium would most likely have been a leasing deal, like the Man C currently has. It would be like selling the house you own and moving to an rented flat – more money in the bank (or to spend) but a higher monthly rent.
This was probably BG’s original thought of making money on the, at the time, red hot London real estate business.
The problems with the Olympic stadium were several, the running tracks around the field the biggest. The Olympic General Sebastian Coe’s wished to keep it as an athletic ground also after the Olympic games, which was something that even our very pragmatic board couldn’t accept. There were talks about retractable seats that could cover the tracks, but that fell through, supposedly over the cost but also the time ran out.
But this is all old news, why do I bring it back?
In a blog article the BBC sports writer Mihir Bose, talks about how these grand plans have been ditched in favour of a “cheaper” rebuild of the Boleyn that would (according to Bose) increase the capacity to 50 000 (previous info says this will not add up to more than 40 000+) by filling the corners and adding a second tier to the East Stand.
Finally he comes in with the obvious conclusion – not even a redevelopment will have much of an opportunity to be realised.
Where would the money come from to perform even a modest rebuild? The current owner, I’m sure, have none to spare, even after the Tevez/Sheffield affair has come to an acceptable end, and I cannot see that there is a financial institution that would under the current circumstances lend us anything.
But will a new owner mean a new and bigger ground?
In the long perspective, yes, but not until there are clear indications that the percentage of empty seats in the EPL in general and at Boleyn Ground in particular are not showing an increase.
This year has shown some scary signs of attendance going down. Several fixtures that were sold out last season has not seen capacity crowds this season, and the Arsenal game, although finally close to capacity, were on general sale for quite some time and there were still 1000+ unsold tickets the day before the game!
This is not the time to expand at all!