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Chelsea Football Club have long been discussing the prospect of a new stadium with previous talks having swung from expansions of their current home through to chatter of a new build stadium. Now though, under the stewardship of Todd Boehly, it looks like the plan for the increased capacity stadium will finally arrive in the shape of a new Stamford Bridge.
What are the plans for a new Stamford Bridge?
Right now, Stamford Bridge has a capacity of 42,000. The plans, which are still largely in their infancy, aim to add 18,000 to the overall capacity taking the total up to 60,000. That would make the stadium the fourth biggest in the Premier League. That’s the ‘what’ element covered. The ‘how’ and ‘where' is where the details become a little more interesting. Stamford Bridge has a long history with multiple honours having been lifted there. Now though a demolition and complete rebuild are on the agenda.
That might sound like an extreme step to take but, actually, it’s the most profitable way to build a modern day stadium with existing buildings difficult to incorporate into newer developments both in terms of the aesthetics and with the requirements of meeting the building regulations that exist in 2023. Even so, the rebuild of the Bridge won’t come cheap with a staggering figure of £1.5bn being stated.
The other big question that needs to be discussed is ‘when’ and that is not a pretty answer for Chelsea fans. Any rebuild of Stamford Bridge will take around five years to complete and, with the activity being a proper rebuild, there will be no matchday action at the stadium during works. The use of Wembley Stadium and a groundshare with Fulham have both been tabled as potential options. A Stamford Bridge homecoming should be inline for 2030.
Stamford Bridge was nearly home no longer
As briefly touched on, the main options throughout the Stamford Bridge revamp have fallen into one of three pots – an extension, a full rebuild or a brand new stadium. In reality, the latter two options are the only two that had real legs in them. The relocation to a new ground was seriously considered by the Blues during Roman Abramovich’s time in charge with Battersea Power Station cited as the most likely destination. In fact, Kohn Pedersen Fox – an architect firm – created plans to recycle the chimneys whilst a formal offer for the land was reportedly made by the club.
The failure on that front saw the old Chelsea regime again explore what work could be carried out at Stamford Bridge. Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were heavily involved in this process and their plans heavily resembled the Bird’s Nest Stadium from Beijing; that’s perhaps unsurprising when considering they are the firm behind that arena. Again, for one reason or another that didn’t happen and here we are today.
So, what will the new Stamford Bridge look like?
Based on the detail that is in the public domain right now, the truth is we don’t know much about what the new Chelsea stadium might look like; it will be very different to the Archibald Leitch built ground that dates back to 1877 though. Another thing we can almost guarantee is that the overall matchday experience will be transformed from a fan’s perspective.
Janet Marie Smith is one of the leading voices on the new stadium project and brings with her a host of experience in this area courtesy of her role with baseball side LA Dodgers. Their stadium is complemented by an array of external commercial and hospitality units in the vicinity of the ground. The exterior of the current Stamford Bridge doesn’t allow for such development but the club are exploring the option to purchase 1.2 acres of land very close to the stadium plot, which would facilitate this ‘fan park’ type location. It's just a case of sitting tight and waiting…for now.
Watch this space.
Premier League Capacities
1. Manchester United (Old Trafford) 76,100
2. Tottenham Hotspur (White Hart Lane) 61,000
3. Arsenal (Emirates Stadium) 60,432
4. Manchester City (Etihad Stadium) 55,097
5. Liverpool (Anfield) 54,000
6. West Ham United (Olympic Stadium) 54,000
7. Newcastle United (St James' Park) 52,401
8. Aston Villa (Villa Park) 42,785
9. Chelsea (Stamford Bridge) 41,623
The artists impression above as well as others from Herzog & de Meuron, can be viewed on the de Zeen Magazine website.
The formal planning permission request can be viewed on the Hammersmith and Fulham Council website.
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