New Stadium - Lessons from the Past
Firstly we'd like to wish all Evertonians a happy and prosperous 2017. Is it really a decade since the destination Kirkby debacle began? As ever, we're hopeful that this year finally brings the good news on the stadium front that we all want to hear.
The club's first opportunity to deliver a positive progress announcement will be at the AGM on the 4th of January, we all look forward to hearing the dockside stadium is confirmed, but, whatever stunning renderings are promoted, and no doubt Dan Meis will deliver what's needed, perhaps it's wise to highlight a problem that all of Everton's past failures had in common, a problem that has exacerbated and extended Everton's decades long stadium search....a lack of a plan B.
Since the arrival of Farhad Moshiri Evertonians have experienced a mixture of excitement and frustration; excited at the prospect that the perennial stadium conundrum could finally begin to be seriously addressed and frustrated that the widely predicted overhaul of the playing staff didn’t quite materialise as expected. It would not be unreasonable to describe Everton's team as being in transition, but, as ever, with a new manager at the helm and the appointment of Steve Walsh as director of football, progress will be measured only by results.
Progress off the field is also measured by results, and it would be unrealistic to expect Farhad Moshiri to wave a magic wand and instantly repair sixteen years of poor management, poor commercial performance and negative investment.
Looking at the latest accounts it reveals he's provided an £80m interest free loan to consolidate our debt. It is not uneasonable to suggest that since 2000 the club has little more than survived through loans and the sale of assets whilst our peers have prospered, but now we must look to the future, not blindly, but with cautious optimism.
The board has been changed from what was little more than a token body to one designed to address the challenges that Everton now need to address; readers can forgive KEIOC for raising an eyebrow at one or two of the appointments, particularly one that has had a long and calamitous association with the club throughout the Kenwright era, a person once described by David Gill as delivering the square root of nothing.
Clearly the greatest single challenge to a successful era under Farhad Moshiri will be addressing Everton’s stadium problem. We all know this won’t be easy, neither will managing the expectations of Evertonians who will be understandably anxious for a plan to re – establish Everton as a member of the country’s elite clubs.
Increasing those expectations unrealistically will create problems, Everton has been looking for a new stadium for decades, Arsenal’s Ashburton Grove project took nine years, Tottenham’s Northumberland project will be twelve years and let’s not forget our neighbour’s 2003 planning approved AFL stadium, then later their HKS monstrosity in the park was but weeks away from spades in the ground only for it to die a death in the same way as Everton’s own dream on the Kings Dock. The lesson to be learnt here is an obvious one.
Most Evertonians can readily see the possibilities of a stadium on the banks of the royal blue Mersey. However, due to the aforementioned problems experienced by others, including Everton, we feel it prudent that a deliverable “Plan B” should be retained and that this should be Goodison for several very good reasons.
Firstly, incremental expansion, as LFC are now undertaking, is a cost effective way to develop both your capacity and your commercial offer, but, secondly, and more importantly, there is one thing that money can’t buy and that something is history.
The history of Goodison Park is something that simply shouldn’t be forgotten for the sake of a shiny new stadium, just ask any West Ham fan you may know. If you look in Everton’s accounts you’ll find the value of Goodison Park under “tangible assets” what you won’t find is the value of Goodison as an intangible. It's difficult to put a price on the history and architecture of Goodison but it's why, season after season, it simultaneously features amongst the most intimidating and favourite grounds to visit by opposition fans, players and managers. It is its USP, its unique selling point, football fans want real stadiums and they come no better than Goodison when it comes to life under the floodlights on a dark evening.
What follows is a discussion document by staunch Evertonian, shareholder and KEIOC supporter Tom Hughes. Tom, an engineer, with considerable experience of stadium design, advises KEIOC on its stadium policy along with architect Trevor Skempton. It's probably amongst the most comprehensive studies of Goodison you're ever likely to read, thought provoking and detailed we think every Evertonian should understand just how good Goodison could be in the 21st century.
Goodison Park Redevelopment: Introduction
Why has the redevelopment of Goodison Park continued to be dismissed out of hand every time the stadium question is raised? Such has been the aversion to this option over the years that, you could be forgiven for thinking that there was something dark and sinister roaming the depths of one of Goodison’s old stands, terrifying the staff. This article is intended to open up the question of redevelopment, but more importantly to dispel some of the common misconceptions built up over the years. In doing so, I will attempt to outline the main issues/problems, as well as some of the possibilities to resolve those. I will use simple comparisons with examples from elsewhere, with sketched “ideas” and some scale drawings. It is not intended as a definitive set of solutions. The emphasis is entirely on generating a broad scope of ideas for maximising the potential of our old stadium. There is in effect a whole spectrum of potential solutions. These range from the bare minimum or Heritage-led approach, preserving as much historic fabric as possible, right through to replacing say one, two, three or even all four whole stands incrementally over a phased redevelopment. All while maintaining a capacity equal to, or in excess of the current 39,500+ throughout the process. For the purpose of this article, I will mainly try to concentrate on the structures already in place, individually and collectively, to show how they can be changed or enhanced to meet our future needs. I will also try to contextualise the issues by covering some of the process to date.
The Stadium question has been on-going for over 20yrs. (Longer still if we consider Sir John Moores’ ideas from the 1960’s-80’s). We had the ambitious Kings Dock proposals (2003) that failed and eventually gave way to the contentious Destination Kirkby scheme (2007). More recently we have had the similarly ill-fated Walton Hall Park plans. When asked about redevelopment only last year at a Shareholder’s Association quarterly meeting, Robert Elstone was only too quick to reaffirm the old Wyness’ party-line from the time of the Kirkby proposals. This stated that redevelopment was simply not viable, would achieve only 35k capacity, and that it would be prohibitively expensive... All of which has been disproven several times, even long before Destination Kirkby was dreamt up.
Unfortunately over the years, this almost inherited mindset has been allowed to pervade all aspects of our stadium question. It has never really been allowed to be disputed. Before we can ever make a meaningful judgement and comparison with ANY relocation proposal, a proper and exhaustive exploration of the complete range of redevelopment options at GP is essential. It has become abundantly clear that this has never really happened to date, and this should always have been the starting point in the whole process.The third-party force behind destination Kirkby dictated that this was never going to be considered, nor a direct comparison allowed, hence the complete omission of any ‘options’ at the time of the ballot.
Then, the rather flimsy over-reliance on naming-rights uplift for Walton Hall Park, combined with little by way of enabling development to add to the project funds and reduce the costs which left that option in ruins too.
However, even then the resultant stadium may have been of low-quality in order to limit the cost and long-term debt incurred. Therefore, was that, or any other number of unknowns or imponderables connected to any proposed out of town relocation all really worth it then?
It is indisputable that Goodison Park is increasingly tired and lacking in several aspects of its offer. There are the obvious issues of: limited capacity; limited corporate/hospitality; limited concourse areas; far too many obstructed views etc. However, it is not (and it has never been) the complete lost-cause that its continued disregard implies.
What are its positive points? Well, without fear of contradiction, Goodison Park comfortably oozes more character and history than most of the rest put together. Slightly subjective, I know, but it is not for nothing that this historic old stadium has earned the endearing mantel of "Grand Old Lady", and is increasingly revered by various commentators and journalists for its special appeal, intimacy and bear-pit atmosphere when the occasion demands it.
These are both literally and metaphorically very solid and real foundations that can be built upon, with many of the problems and failings eradicated or at least alleviated to a great extent, and all future requirements met in a greatly enhanced stadium. In outlining the characteristic features, I will attempt to show how these qualities are real assets that already add value.
Furthermore, I will try to show how much of the existing structures and capacity can be reused producing significant savings, and how real quality views and supporting facilities can be added, giving for instance: far more high-value elevated seats than was proposed at WHP on a limited budget, realised over a phased redevelopment.
Only at Goodison Park is there the potential to have history, modernity and continuity combined in this way.
In illustrating these points I hope ultimately to outline the need for the club to commission a design study or competition, with an open brief to see ALL the options to continue the evolution of the world’s first true purpose-built football stadium. What could possibly be more fitting; appropriate; desirable or even achievable? The club needs to get this right.
In attempting to justify Destination Kirkby (DK), the club first embarked on its hardsell at the time of the ballot. Initially, this involved the tactic of only including glossy imagery of the Kirkby stadium and selling it as the ‘only’ option. There was no attempt at any point to furnish the voter with similarly presented images of redevelopment designs for Goodison, even despite the long-standing existence of such, commisioned by GFE (Goodison for Ever-ton campaign), and part-funded by Bill Kenwright several years earlier.
After that glaring ‘tactical’ omission, there was an endless trail of propaganda supporting the pro-kirkby campaign, culminating in the denigration of all things Goodison by some: You can watch a video of this here.
Throughout this whole process the club's statements where at best heavily biased and unsubstantiated, and at worst totally misleading. Therefore it would probably be useful to make an objective comparison between DK and Goodison Park to help illustrate the potential our fine old stadium holds, and this will be covered in the article.
As we are all aware, not everything that is new or modern turns out to be real progress, and this certainly applied to the Kirkby proposals. The stadium was at best a mid-level off-the-shelf solution of no significant character nor design quality. It certainly was not the state-of-the-art stadium that was promised in the ballot literature. Even the most basic scrutiny of the proposals revealed several short-comings, yet the club chose only to reflect on Goodison’s failings.Highlighting its most obvious problems and headlining them as reasons to pursue a new stadium in Kirkby, completely ignoring the many potential solutions and real opportunities at the current site and/or elsewhere.
My feelings are that Goodison Park also represents a great opportunity, to preserve what is iconic and add value in a way that cannot be readily achieved elsewhere. Ultimately delivering something that would literally be unique in the world of football stadium architecture, and a direct evolution of what Goodison Park represents.
To qualify this statement, it would perhaps be beneficial to firstly reference similar historic stadia elsewhere, since it is important to put into context the issues that some at the club strived so diligently to highlight as reason to move to Kirkby, before attempting to address those issues specific to the current stadium. The following images show some comparable views at Wrigley field and Fenway in the USA, homes for the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox respectively:
Figure 1. Wrigley field Chicago
Figure 2. Fenway, Boston
Anything look familiar? The Parallels with the current plight and qualities of Goodison Park are too numerous, and extend beyond the obvious obstructed view issue shown in the images above. These famous old arenas survived the mass migration of US stadia to out-of-town sites in the 60s-80’s. They are now often heralded as the way forward, warts and all, as nearly all those short-lived out-of-town “Cookie-cutter” stadia have failed, and are being demolished in the rush to relocate back downtown, to the heart of the communities that traditionally support these clubs. The tight seating rows and intimacy afforded by overlapping tiers is also being largely replicated in the new generation of retro-stadia in the US (Left: Figure 3. Fenway’s wooden seats).
Any suggestion of knocking these ancient structures down has been met by the proverbial “lynch-mob” reaction, and that even includes many fans of other clubs who have witnessed the mistake of the out-of-town experiment first hand. These are considered national sporting treasures in the US, and are held in reverence as the greatest examples of their genre....... all in the home of some of the most advanced stadia in the world.
Figure 4. Stadium cross-section comparison
Importantly, that attachment is not just an emotional one. The scale cross sectional models shown here (fig 4) are of Fenway (front) and its once-proposed replacement which was modelled on the Coors field, Denver. Fan’s groups made the valid argument that for the sacrifice of some obstructed views in the lower tier, the high-paying patrons of the upper tier held far superior seats than those proposed at the new venue, with a marked reduction in footprint and construction requirement. Highlighting very clearly the potential folly of some aspects of modern stadium design criteria, and relocation. The new owners recognised this and all the other qualities of their existing historic stadium and have sought only to retain and enhance those valued features.
Goodison’s old stands possess all these qualities and are increasingly being referred to with similar sentiment by Sports and Architectural writers and commentators. The “Grand Old Lady”, being 4 sided can have all the character of these large American baseball stadia, but with modernity combined. No other British stadium has the historic fabric to build onto in this way.
Mysteriously, Goodison's obstructed views grew by several hundred percent at the time of the Kirkby proposals. (I half expected to see dozens more roof supports inserted, such was the rapid increase). In actual fact the club only confirmed what most of us already knew...... the method for classification of obstructed views had been fundamentally flawed for decades. I remember pondering if the club then planned to revise their pricing policy accordingly, or was that honesty only prompted by the ulterior motive that was “Destination Kirkby”?As a comparison it is interesting to read another club’s assessment of their restricted views:
“Did you know that any seat at Craven Cottage where the goal mouth is obscured by a fixed structure is classified as a 'restricted view' seat?Did you also know that, like many other stadiums in the world, the Cottage has lots of roof-supporting poles, and therefore lots of 'restricted view' seats - more than 1500 in fact!
What you probably didn't know is that the view from the vast majority of these seats is excellent. As you can see from the pictures below or from our restricted view seat interactive page , only a very small part of the pitch is obscured, and in many cases the view from some of the restricted view seats could be considered superior to 'full view' seats in the corners of the ground.Due to their classification these are the last seats in the ground to sell, and in fact, we normally have a few restricted view seats available to buy on the day of the game, even for the biggest games of the season!
NOT ONLY DO YOU GET A GREAT VIEW FROM THESE SEATS, BUT THEY'RE ALSO CHEAPER THAN FULL VIEW SEATS SO THE COST OF YOUR FIRST PIE OR BEER IS ALMOST COVERED!
So don't be put off if you see the "SOLD OUT - EXCEPT FOR RESTRICTED VIEW SEATS" sign put up. This means you still have the opportunity to buy some great seats and be part of the incredible atmosphere that only a packed Craven Cottage can give.Don't let the 2% stop you from seeing the other 98%!”
Much of the above applies to Goodison. In reality the solution to the vast majority of obstructed views could be simple, and relatively cheap if a completely different approach was adopted. In simple terms there are over 3k obstructed seats (seats with a goal obscured), and probably 3 times that number in total in terms of seats with any part of the pitch obscured. The important thing to consider straight away is that: ALL upper tier obstructions can be completely eradicated by re-roofing of the existing stands, and this alone would be transformational and halve that total. The only remaining seats affected by support stanchions would be: the rearmost rows of the mainstand; a large proportion of the Lower Bullens, and the rearmost rows of the lower Gwladys street. In total, a very much smaller proportion of the overall new capacity. Solutions can then be found to reduce the number of obstructed seats in all these areas if required, and to offset any capacity losses by adding significant capacity elsewhere.
Just to show that obstructed views are not solely the vestige of old stands, here are a few examples of some modern stadia with horrendous obstructed views.
Figure 5 Lucas Oil Field - Two Columns for the Price of One!
Above Fig 6. Hannover '96
Above: Fig 7. The cheap seats at New York Yankees Stadium (cost $1bn)
Are there many comparable views at Goodison to these at one of the USA’s newest stadia. Lucas Oil Field, Hanover 96’s recently refurbished stadium, or most surprisingly the Yankees’ new ultra-expensive retro stadium? Therefore, is it too much to ask if we can tolerate some obstructed views to preserve our history, and at the same time offer a small number of very cheap (or even free) tickets for those currently priced out of football?
So, if we now consider each stand individually, and then collectively:
THE BULLENS ROAD STAND (1926)
Fig 8. Bullens X-Section
The Lower Bullens could be reprofiled to join the paddock as a continuous terrace stand extending back only as far as the second row of columns (with no seats behind these columns). This would reduce the obstructed views in this stand by upto 2/3rds, completely eradicating the very worst seats in the rearmost rows (see Fig.9 below). It could also improve circulation at the rear of this stand allowing additional toilets and concessions serving this lower area. The slightly increased rake, also improving c-values in this lower tier. This was costed by the club in the Johnson era, and was approximately £1.5m (c.1998), and is exactly the same construction process as used on the lower Gwladys street stand when it was transformed into a seated terrace-stand in the early 90’s.
Fig 9. Re-profiled Lower Bullens (green seats are replaced by those shown in white.)
The viewing status of this modified lower tier would be comparable (though slightly superior in c-value terms) to the lower Gwladys street as a basic traditional terrace-stand and would be priced accordingly. Destination Kirkby was regularly sold to us as a solution to the perceived limited ‘premier’ seating capacity at GP, but it should also be remembered that there is a much larger potential demand for cheaper seats for those fans currently priced-out of football, and these old lower tiers are literally a ready-made solution.
Much has been made of the defficiencies of the lower Bullens by the club, which considering its relatively small capacity hardly added great impetus to DK, however, just limiting the stand's depth as shown above will address most of those issues. In any case, is this really so bad: You can watch a video here.
My feelings are that this simple example illustrates the character and culture of our traditional terrace stand. Something often completely devoid at many new stadia, where uniformity and even sterility have become the order of the day. Goodison Park’s trademark was always that it offered the opportunity to experience the spectacle from many different perspectives and angles, with standing and seating on all four sides of the stadium.
Lower Bullens as an Executive stand?
Alternatively, the complete replacement of this lower stand with exec boxes serving 4-5 rows of seats in front, with spacious lounges/boxes under the cover of the upper tier: (see below)
Fig 10. New Lower Bullens Exec tier (seats shown green replaced by those in white)
No new seats would be actually located behind pillars, and the existing path at rear of paddock displaced by Exec seats and vomitories arranged around upper tier’s support columns as shown below:
Fig 11. Lower Bullens/Paddock plan view, showing new vomitories arranged around support columns
Fig 12. Inserting an Executive tier beneath Upper Bullens and extending Paddock.
Fig. 12a: Perspective view of Bullens Rd Stand with Exec deck beneath an extended upper tier.
Fig 12b: Existing Bullens
These options would all at least give the impression of preserving the over-lapping format of the traditional double-decker, and with the extension and re-roofing of the upper tier would completely or substantially eradicate obstructions on this side altogether, while at the same time preserving an increasingly rare example of Archibald Leitch’s work.
Such modifications would have to be considered very carefully, so as not to change the stand's proportions/character too much (at which point the reason for preservation is either lost or overly diluted), with glazed exec boxes set back and inconspicuous, hidden beneath the upper tier, acting primarily as lounges rather than actual viewing areas. Much of the internal structural features would be preserved, adding value and maintaining the character of these areas, again in a way that could not be readily recreated elsewhere.
Advantages: Relatively cheap solution to solving obstructed view problem in the lower stand, while providing quality exec box/lounge area on this side of the stadium.
Disadvantage: Quite low vantage point for corporate seats; Capacity-Drop of over 2,000 seats on the lower tier will limit any new total capacity gain on this side.
UPPER BULLENS STAND
As with the Fenway example, while continually highlighting the effect of a few pillars on the lower Bullens, the club was completely ignoring the fact that the views afforded to the upper tier by their existance are literally amongst the best at any ground in the premiership. Further significant additional capacity can be added to the upper Bullens, where modern sightline standards can be met with an extension of the current upper tier by 15-20 rows as shown below.
Fig 13. Extended upper tier. Note existing roof shown in grey (Roof Truss not shown)
This represents a very modest footprint expansion, only marginally larger than just the current external roadway itself. In the past city-planners have stated that they are receptive to such an expansion, with substantially less disturbance factor for local residents than that with the Kirkby proposal, not to mention the inordinately superior public transport, accessibility and proximity to the most densely populated concentration of the club’s fan-base, at the current location.
By extending the current upper tier at a rake of 34-35°, these new rows would all be good to very high-quality viewing rows, with good C-values and more importantly both excellent viewing angles and distances (see figs.13&16). The result of these relatively minor modifications is a significantly improved stand, in essence creating a new 13-15,000 seat stand effectively for the cost of just 6,000 new seats. All the time preserving the key historical features and character of the original structure...... “Deal of the century” some might even say. The concourse areas serving the upper tier will increase by several hundred percent whether a single or 2 floor format is adopted. The existing Upper Bullens would have its wooden treads/risers (steps) replaced to give more leg room, increasing the value of these seats upto premier seat class. The entire centre section of the front 10-15 rows, by say 80-120 seats wide (total of: 800-1,800 premier seats) could form a new club section, served by its own lounge in the extended concourse behind (see fig.17). Again offering superior and far more numerous high quality views than at Kirkby, which by comparison were relatively low and distant from the pitch. A similar though far more problematic redevelopment was achieved at Ibrox’s Mainstand (Glasgow Rangers)
Fig 14. Ibrox mainstand with new upper tier
Fig 15. New Upper Tier With New Exec Tier Inserted
In the case of the Bullens Rd stand, the expansion would be achieved behind the current structure as opposed to above and through it, as at Ibrox. This greatly reduces construction complexity and therefore the ensuing costs also. It simultaneously adds considerable “back-of-house” space for supporting facilities. The expansion, in effect encasing the older stand and offering the opportunity for a new modern external facade and architectural statement, if considered desirable. Unlike several Leitch stands elsewhere, the exterior of his Goodison designs are more austere and functional, rather than decorative or iconic. Therefore there would be no problem in masking the current exterior with new modern facades, or indeed retro-Leitch brickwork frontages. The extension could also be of a modular format, able to stand alone if future legislation or structural issues necessitated the complete redevelopment of this side (although contrary to popular belief, no such legislation exists, or is anticipated as the current structure is over-engineered and solid). Then any future removal of the existing upper tier could lead to replacement tiers as shown (Fig. 15).
There are several approaches that can yield additional capacity and facilities on this side and preserve the existing stand. The following Sketch showing how the roof can be supported from behind, with substantially extended concourse areas on 3 levels. Also allowing new lounge space to serve the premium seated sections of the upper Bullens stand. The original stand re-profiled with new composite treads and risers to give more legroom. If Exec boxes are required on this side they can be readily accommodated at the rear of the new upper tier within the roof support structure. The 12m dimension showing roughly the width of the existing road from the existing building line, and the minimum incursion on the surrounding area. The current road would still be used for external pedestrian circulation, with people under cover.
Fig 16. Extended Bullens Rd stand Cross section.
An internal perspective view from the Park end is shown below….. Illustrating the effect of expanding the upper tier into a far more substantial structure. The upper tier capacity could be more than doubled, with concourse area increased by 500-700%. The paddock and lower Bullens consolidated into a single terrace-stand with the loss of the pathway and again with a several-fold increase in concourse space.
Fig 17. Extended Upper Bullens, Viewed From Park End
New flexible premium Lounge area, expandable to meet demand on this side.
Advantage: Simple extension, Low cost, Conserved Classic Leitch stand, Improved Concourses and Lounge capacity.
Disadvantages: Still obstructed views in the lower tier (though reduced), only limited capacity increase due to minimum C-value requirements limiting size of extension to just 15-20 new rows.
WHOLE NEW UPPER BULLENS
Alternatively, the upper tier can be replaced completely as a new single upper tier set back slightly to join more seamlessly with the upper Gwladys Street stand creating a continuous double-decker on these two sides. This would be completed in two phases whereby the rear section and new roof is built behind the existing stand (Shown shaded below). Allowing the existing upper stand to be removed and the new rear section of the new stand to be used, and later extended forward (shown in black) to complete a whole new upper tier
Fig 18. New Upper Bullens Rd Stand Cross Section.
Advantages: Much of the bottom tier internals are conserved such as internal structural elements etc; The lower tier would also become completely unobstructed as the new upper deck is cantilevered from the new-build behind; Capacity can also be added on the lower tier, to further add to the total, and offer the additional benefit of allowing the whole away allocation to be housed on this one level if necessary; The slightly awkward corner section is replaced for a more seamless one.
Disadvantage: Loss of a Historic stand, (although the Leitch balcony front can be reused); Greater cost due to removal of old upper tier, and the additional construction cost of its replacement.
TWO NEW UPPER TIERS (sandwiching a row of exec boxes):
As shown below (Figs 19&20), with a premium tier, dedicated Lounge area and Executive boxes to create a triple-decker configuration on this side.Advantages: Realignment of upper tier offers greater potential capacity increase on this side. High Quality premium seating and superior box positioning.Disadvantage: Loss of historic stand. Increased cost due to partial demolition, additional construction and complexity. Larger footprint requirement.
Fig 19. Cross section of New Two-Tiered Bullens Rd Stand Extension.
Fig 20. Perspective View: Bullens Rd Stand Looking Towards Gwladys St End (Also Shown Extended)
The Gwladys Street Stand.
Fig 21. Existing Gwladys Street Stand.
As shown above, the Upper Gwladys street stand also has 2 rows of support columns, but this later example of Leitch's work has less supports, and being an end stand also has a narrower viewing range generally. Therefore the removal of just the back 2-5 rows would probably be sufficient to reduce the number of obstructed seats in this stand dramatically, especially those back rows with limited vertical views.
However, in seeking a solution to the obstructed-view problems at this end, it should also be noted that many fans in this lower tier prefer the atmosphere at the rear of this former terrace, under the upper stand, and are not as concerned by obstructions. As with the lower Bullens, a much fairer pricing strategy would see the remaining obstructed views as saleable seats. Giving them a low nominal price (as sale-on-the day/when all others sold) would see many of those fans currently priced-out of going the match, being able to attend.
Fig 21a New Gwladys Street Stand with 'Skyboxes' Built into Roof-Truss.
The addition of a new roof structure (possibly including ‘Skyboxes’) would eradicate all the upper stand obstructions, unifying the roofline with the other sides, and provide ‘behind-the-goal’ exec/club-seat capacity. Opening up the upper tier by removing all the supports would also greatly increase the attractiveness of this stand. The ‘Skyboxes’ would be built into the roof truss and have 2-3 rows of seating with glazed boxes at their rear, similar to this example below.
Fig 22. New Hoffenheim Stadium, Featuring 'Skyboxes'.
Alternatively, the Gwladys Street can be added to in a similar way to the Bullens Rd Stand, but will require a footprint expansion at this end to free up sufficient space. Again this could take the format of: (a) a simple extension of the existing upper tier. (b) A separate whole new upper stand…… or (c) a third tier above and behind the current double-decker structure. The shallower stand geometry allows a larger upper tier to be added to the existing stand. See sketch below.
Fig 23. Extended Gwladys Street Upper Stand.
A 20-30 Row extension at the rear of the Upper Gwladys Street Stand would equate to an additional 4-6,000 seats at this end. The Roof would probably need to be supported by a goalpost truss due to the close proximity of the streets behind. (Shown in perspective view of the corner with the mainstand. See figs 26 & 27). The Clearance of the houses behind would be minimal (approx. 25 houses), and would also improve circulation at this end, which can be congested even at current capacity levels. The traditional home end would be greatly enhanced with a total capacity of 14-16,000, and the majority now in the upper tier, gaining maximum acoustic effect beneath a large expanse of roof. Thus greatly improving the atmospheric quality of the home of our most vociferous fans. The extension also increases concourse area by a minimum of 5-600%. This would be sufficient to house a supporters-club type lounge at the back of the existing upper stand, which would also be re-profiled removing wooden treads, adding legroom and value in this section.
THE MAINSTAND (Goodison Rd side)
If the Mainstand has one redeeming feature, it is its sheer impressive scale. In terms of obstructions the worst affected area in the Mainstand is at the church end of this stand (shown below). The Top Balcony's support columns are quite numerous, combining with the two front roof supports to create several multiple-obstructed views (seats with more than one column obstructing view of the pitch) at the rear of this stand.
Fig 24. Mainstand viewed from Lower Gwladys St stand.
This would be greatly eleviated by the simple removal of the stand's 2 front roof supports, which instantly frees the Top Balcony and the whole front section of the mainstand (including the director’s box, and lounge sections) of ALL obstructions. However, a dual solution could involve the improved utilisation of this cavernous space between tiers, by inserting a mini-tier beneath the Top Balcony to form a new executive-box facility, more numerous and more suitably situated than the current ‘lean-to’ boxes on this side.
The seats shown in green being lost, but replaced in part by 4 new rows of exec quality seats in their own dedicated tier, plus 4 new rows at the front of the mainstand continuing along its full length, plus possibly reinstatement of a full enclosure stand should the existing boxes now be replaced by the more substantial executive balcony above. This relatively simple addition alone would create 30-40 exec boxes and could be supplimented by corner towers as shown below.
Fig 25. New Exec Tier Under Top Balcony
Fig 26. Mainstand/Gwladys St Corner Section with Corner Exec Tower and Skyboxes.
Or with a simple extended Upper Gwladys street stand: Fig 27.
Fig 28. The Leitch Mainstand (built 1909)
The Old Mainstand preceded the current structure, complete with Gable centre-piece on the roof. Perhaps if the heritage angle is pursued, the Gable could be reinstated on a new or modified roof as Sheffield Wednesday have done with their refurbished 1913 Leitch Mainstand. (A full summary of Sheffield Weds £22m redevelopment plans can be found here.
Fig 29. Sheffield Wednesday's Refurbished Leitch Stand, With New Roof and Gable.
Fig 30. Mainstand, viewed from the Bullens Rd Paddock
Fig 31. Mainstand With Front Roof Supports Removed and Back-Stays Supporting Existing Segmented Roof-Truss With Replica Leitch Gable on the Centre-Line.
THE PARK END STAND
Fig 32. Existing Park End stand (1994)
Substantial additional capacity is readily achieveable behind the current Park end, either by virtue of enlarging the existing structure (single or two tier format) or replacing it with a completely new stand. The space is available within club boundaries, and literally any size stand can be realised at this end, which may make it the obvious starting point.
Fig 33. Extended Park End stand (existing seats shown in blue)
The cross-section above shows how up to 45 rows can be added to the rear of the existing stand to form a vast single tier stand, with all new rows offering good c-value sight-lines. As well as the obvious substantial increase in capacity achieved, there would also be a several-fold increase in concourse area, offering the opportunity for larger lounges/multi-use areas. These could be utilised by club and hotel as conference/exhibition areas, and could also greatly increase premier-seating provision at this end. The current captain’s table lounge membership for instance could be increased substantially with new lounge capacity easily accommodated in new floor space beneath the stand.
Fig 34. Extended Park-end Plan View Showing Corner Section Link with an Extended Upper Bullens.
The plan-view above shows how the single-tier end stand can be cranked around the corner, and blended into an extended upper-Bullens, using a simple straight corner section, despite the different rake angles. This will reflect the similarly cranked corner section at the Gwladys St/Bullens Rd corner. Alternatively, a segmented curved corner section could be used to turn the corner although this could be slightly more expensive due to increased structural complexity.
Having such a vast single-tier end stand could be transformational for Goodison Park, altering the focal point of the whole stadium. It would be larger and physically taller than Anfield’s Kop grandstand, and more akin to Dortmund’s famous South Tribune (See fig 35). For the first time ever it would give Evertonians a very large unified single-tiered stand that would help sustain and even encourage a great atmosphere in a way that the existing configurations cannot.
Fig 35. Dortmund South Tribune in Terrace mode.
Fig 36. Extended Single-Tier Park End Stand with Corner-Section of Mainstand
Utilising the corner for an Exec box tower to add both new exec facilities and corner truss supports for the new mainstand and Park End roof structures. This view shows how a new larger Park End Stand would complement the scale of the Mainstand side.
As a historical footnote, Dixie’s landmark record 60th goal was achieved at this end of the ground in 1928 (see Fig. 37). What could be a more fitting tribute than to name a new mammoth Park-end: The Dixie Dean grandstand? The biggest single-tier end stand in the country to match his status, and a great new platform for generating the same “Goodison Roar” that met his legendary achievement on that fateful day. Furthermore, we might also ask: what would be more appropriate than to preserve the backdrop to that image, giving continuity and connection with the past for all future generations of Evertonians.
Fig 37. Dixie's 60th (1928)
Fig 38. The Same Backdrop Almost 90 Years On.
TWO-TIER PARK END STAND
Alternatively, the Traditionalists might prefer to see the Park End reinstated in a two tier format, to recreate a stadium that has been multi-tier on all sides for most of its history. A new upper tier can be built behind the existing stand. The bulk of the new stand and roof built during the season with the overhanging section installed during close season. See below.
Fig 39. Existing Park-End Stand with New Upper Tier.
Advantages: Two tier format enables the comparatively simple inclusion of mid-level Executive boxes which would double-up as an opportunity to link those facilities (boxes convertible to rooms and lounges/catering facilities with a Hotel at the rear of this stand. Overlapping format brings the upper section closer to the pitch improving viewing distances, and also offers opportunity for mixed price range across both tiers.
Disadvantage: Slightly more expensive option, less unity than a single-tier.Capacity increase 5-8,000Cost: £13-25m. (Dependent on capacity and facilities included)
BULLENS/PARK-END CORNER SECTION
Fig 40. Extended Upper Bullens with corner section and Two Tier Park End Stand
A simple cranked corner section (shown above) extending the Bullens Rd Stand at the corner with the Park End can link these stands quite effectively, and provide significant new capacity in this under-utilised area, at the same time allowing larger away allocations (Cup games) to be readily housed in the corner without the need to displace Evertonians from their regular seats on the Bullens side.
Similarly, if the Bullens was remodelled into a 3-tier stand (See Figs 19 & 41), then the Upper Park-End Stand could form a continuous upper tier around both of these sides allowing for some economies of scale and structural repetition on both stands.
Ultimately, this could eventually be extended around the Gwladys St Stand too, to form a complete wrap around horse-shoe on 3 sides if a footprint expansion is possible.
Fig 41. Triple-Tier Bullens with Corner section Joining 2-Tier Park End Stand.
Again, a simple cranked corner section continuing the two new Bullens’ upper tiers would add significant new capacity, and knit seamlessly into a Two-Tiered Park End Stand allowing the redevelopment to sweep around both these sides in a neat unified plan. Furthermore, this type of two-sided development would represent a complete transformation of these sides, and given the less constrained format, could easily realise a 15,000+ net capacity increase on these two sides alone (Total Capacity 54,000-56,000). Leaving scope for further expansion on the other sides in the future, if required.
THREE NEW STANDS
At the other end of the redevelopment spectrum, a whole new Park End double-decker stand could be built that would turn the corner directly into a new Bullens stand, as shown below, and then mirrored at the Gwladys Street End with a slightly displaced pitch to free up sufficient space. This 3 New Stand Scheme can be found here.
Fig 42. Park End Double-Decker Stand From a Previous Scheme.
Fig 43. Plan View of 3 New Tier Scheme (Showing displaced pitch).
EXAMPLES OF SIMILAR STADIUM EXTENSIONS (UK)
There are numerous examples of similar single-tier stand extensions and corner developments, but one up-to-date example of similar configuration is that proposed for Sheffield Utd’s Kop stand, which is to be extended by over 3,200 to make it bigger than Anfield’s kop. With a corner business enterprise development and Hotel as part of the scheme. Also, the new corner section, now complete. (below)
Fig 44. Sheffield United's Kop Extension.
Fig 45. Corner extension.
Extending in this way can be considerably cheaper than building whole new stands of equivalent capacity. CARDIFF CITY FC recently extended above and behind the Ninian Stand to add 5,000 seats including a corporate level and boxes for just £12m. (Approx. £2.4k per seat)
Fig 46 Cardiff City Ninian Stand Extension.
Fig 47. Ninian Stand. Construction of the new upper tier at rear of the existing stand.
When Cardiff reached the Premier League, they soon found that their latent fan base filled their new stadium for every match. Therefore, the club elected to expand their capacity to accommodate the increased demand, and to add additional corporate facilities. As can be seen in the previous images, a relatively small footprint expansion on the Ninian Stand side has yielded 5,000 new seats, and space for 30+ boxes and supporting lounges, and represents a significant upgrade.
Fig 48. Stan Cullis Stand (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC)
The Stan Cullis Stand (see: fig 48 above) at WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS FC is the first phase of a redevelopment plan which will eventually see 3 sides of the stadium remodelled to give an increased total capacity of 38k. This first phase cost £18m for 7,700 new seats over 2 tiers. An average cost of approx. £2.5k per seat. Currently only the first phase is completed, with the plans on hold while Wolves are still in the lower leagues. This is the second time that the club have embarked on a major rebuild, having remodelled all four sides by the 90’s. Unfortunately, they felt that the stands were already cramped and too distant from the pitch. New owners had higher ambitions and having seen regular full houses for their return to the premier league wanted to increase capacity to nearer 40,000, with potential to increase it further in the future.
There are multiple examples of stadium expansions worldwide, including many of the biggest clubs in football, and some of the most famous stadia. Such as: Nou Camp, Bernabeu, San Siro, and several of the stadia used in Germany’s World Cup tournament (2006). However, I have chosen a few more local and recent developments to gauge costs.
Viewing Angle and Viewing Distance: A Comparison.
There are several ways of measuring viewing performance other than the oft-quoted ‘c-value’, which is an indicator of the clarity of view of the near touch/goal-line only. For instance the end curved stands at the old Wembley stadium had high c-values, well in excess of minimum requirement.
However, few would consider these stands as great viewing areas for football. Alternatively, by comparison the Top Balcony at Goodison has quite low c-values for its rearmost rows, meaning views of the near touchline can be strained, however, no-one would deny that this stand has far superior views of the pitch than the old high c-valued Wembley end-stands.
The reason for this apparent paradox is that overall viewing performance is a combination of factors. For instance, ‘viewing-distance’ is another important parameter, and is self-explanatory in that it is simply the distance from spectator to the pitch. ‘Viewing-angle’ is another factor, and is the angle subtended at the viewer’s eye between near and far touchlines, or more simply the angle of the sightline to the near touchline, and importantly when combined with viewing-distance is representative of the size of image that the pitch presents to the spectator’s eye.
These parameters are never mentioned in any analysis of Goodison, and our old ground boasts some impressive figures in these respects, with potential to enhance this further and to add similar quality to the existing structures as shown in the schemes described above.
A basic comparison of cross-sections reveals a glaring disparity in terms of viewing-angle and viewing-distances between a redeveloped Goodison and the Kirkby proposals. As can be seen, on average spectators are considerably closer to the action at Goodison Park (fig.50). The basic Kirkby profile shown below boasts no real overlapping of tiers and this combined with poor utilisation of corner areas represents an inefficient use of space.
Fig 49. Cross Section South Stand (Kirkby), Note: no significant overhang of upper tier.
Superimposing this to scale on to Cross-sections for Goodison Park’s existing and expanded structures illustrates the point quite clearly:
Fig 50. Comparison: Kirkby Cross-Section Superimposed on Remodelled Mainstand Cross-Section.
As can be seen from the scale drawing (Fig.50), the uppermost row of the Top Balcony is over 24 metres closer to the pitch (measured horizontally) for rougly the same vertical elevation and number of rows (stand capacity). This is a massive and unnecessary difference that can only be detrimental to the match-day experience. Similarly for the comparison with the extended upper Bullens (below) which shows that the rearmost row of an extended Bullens stand is over 16.5m closer to the pitch. Importantly, this is a combined reduction in stadium width of over 40m, or more than half a pitch-width, clearly demonstrating a glaring difference in relative intimacy, which was the age-old criticism of the US cookie-cutter stadia of the 60’s. The resultant benefits are two-fold. The intimacy preserves the bear pit atmosphere that GP is famed for, and dramatically reduces the volume of construction, reducing costs of new roof systems etc.
Fig 51. Comparison: Kirkby Cross-Section Superimposed on Extended Bullens Rd Stand. Note: existing stand position (Grey roof-line).
Those in Goodison’s upper tiers also enjoy the very real benefits of larger viewing angles than those proposed at Kirkby........ In simplest terms: for the upper Bullens, Top Balcony, mainstand and Upper Gwladys Street, the pitch and players would generally appear far larger to the spectator than for equivalent elevated rows in any of DK's upper tiers.The viewing equivalent of swapping your new 50" TV for a 32" model.
The direct comparsion above explains graphically the open emptiness experienced in so many modern c-value-led designs that can greatly detract from the atmosphere, the general intensity and intimacy of a traditional British stadium (or American Baseball stadium as shown previously). Conversely, Goodison Park has all these qualities in abundance and is increasingly revered for it. The potential increase in upper tier capacity on the Bullens side, and the large single tier park end would greatly enhance the acoustic quality further by perching more people directly under the roof, lowering the threshold for noise projection/crowd participation on those sides, thus ensure an improved atmosphere for all games.
At present the Executive box provision at Goodison is woefully inadequate. The current boxes are poorly located as regards low viewing angle, and exposure to the elements. New boxes can be far more elevated with additional facilities serving them, and the current “lean-to” boxes cleared, with the enclosure returned in full.
Also, a basic analysis of DK's (or the past rumoured WHP) proposed executive and premier seating areas, (the supposed real selling-point for relocation) exposes some serious defficiencies you might not expect from a new stadium. Firstly there is the use of a tread depth of 0.84m almost throughout the whole stadium, there is no additional space nor viewing elevation afforded to the expensive premier seating areas of the stadium, thus potentially limiting their added-value and attractiveness. Compared to what can be achieved at GP (below)
Fig 52. Comparison Between Exec Box Positioning. (Kirkby shown in purple)
As shown, an exec tier beneath the Top Balcony would be over 10m closer to the pitch and almost 3m higher than that proposed in the Kirkby design, meaning far superior viewing distances and angles. The relative extravagance of using such large treads throughout the Kirkby design also increased viewing distances and footprint unnecessarily. It also did little to mimic the traditional high densities of the more partisan sections in a traditional stadium. Liverpool FC noted this issue and ensured that when planning their new Kop for instance it would have absolute minimum tread depths to maximise capacity, intimacy and therefore atmosphere in that stand. There was no similar consideration at DK with no additional value or incentives to create broad-pricing range for different sections.
Redevelopment may take the form of any number of variations on these general themes. One example would be for instance if a heritage-led approach was preferred, with say the Bullens Rd Stand preserved and enhanced by extending the upper tier, and re-profiling the lower into a single terrace stand. This could cost approx. £18-25m, and add approx. 4,500 seats. (6,000 new seats in the upper tier, 1,500 less bottom tier)
If the Park-End Stand was then extended as a large Single-tier Stand, adding up to 8,000 to the capacity at a cost of approx. £25m.
The Mainstand remodelled to add initially 40 boxes at a cost of approximately £10-15m.
Gwladys Street re-roofed with 20 sky boxes, cost approx. £3-5m.
New total Capacity approximately 50,000-52,000, cost £50-70m.
Scale 2D CAD drawings exist for most of the ideas featured in this article, and 3-D Models created for two different approaches: The following images show external views of the scheme described in the example above. As stated, this is at the Conservation/Heritage end of the Redevelopment Spectrum, whereby practically all of the existing structures are retained and enhanced by simple tier-extensions and new roofs as described above.
Fig 53. Goodison Redevelopment, Including Hotel/Conference/Exhibition Development. View: Towards Park End
The 3-D model is generated from scale 2-D cross-sections and site plans. The external design is generic and indicative only. However, it does at least show a scale representation of a corner tower Hotel/Office/residential development including parking over 2-3 levels in the area that is currently the car park. The line of Goodison Rd is clearly shown with Spellow Lane in the bottom left corner. The familiar angled facade of the existing mainstand is shown with new roof and corner exec box and access tower. As can be seen, quite a substantial development is possible at this end of the existing stadium, and being wholly on club land could effectively produce a much fuller financial return, as opposed to the partial retail/residential cross-funding at another suburban site, which has in any case long since been exposed as far from the lucrative finance generator originally promised (approx £10m in real terms in Kirkby). Conversely, a more central site could produce a far greater total enabling yield with potentially richer development scope.
Fig 54. View: Mainstand Side With New External Cladding and Corner Exec Box and Access Tower.
Fig 55. View: Corner of Bullens Rd and Walton Lane (Park End stand).
The scale of the new Park end stand is evident in this view, as is the seamless transition around the corner despite the different heights of stands. The simple roof truss arrangement shown, as with the scheme in general, is only one potential roof support system, with several possible roof support design solutions across the full range of expansion schemes.
Fig 56. View: Corner of Gwladys St and Goodison Rd (St Luke’s Church)
The new Gwladys Street roof serves two purposes: It brings the roof line for the whole stadium to the same height, and at the same time allows for the insertion of sky-boxes-lounge under the roof at this end of the stadium if there is sufficient demand for this type of facility (see figs 21 & 26)
As shown in the example illustrated, a 50,000+ Capacity can be readily achieved by the relatively simple extension of two existing Stands, or 54,000+ by the addition of whole new tiers on just two sides, and this can be increased to 60k+ by further development at the Gwladys St End in the future.The direct comparisons show very clearly that a redevelopment of this kind need not be a poor-quality adlib, nor in any way a piecemeal solution.Aesthetically, the assymetry and enclosed configuration and the retention of overlapping stands lends far greater character and traditional feel, while our “history” itself will always be by definition far more intrinsic to the Goodison option.