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Oxford United new stadium: All the Kassam Stadium move facts

Oxford United have called the Kassam Stadium home since 2001, but are now on the move once again with an Oxford United new stadium in the works. Here we take a look at what the plans are for the ground and the timelines involved…

Why are Oxford leaving the Kassam Stadium?

Oxford United has called the Kassam Stadium home since 2001, but as their lease inches towards expiration in 2026 and no hope of renewing, the club finds itself at a crossroads with the only alternative being to find a new home.

The U’s former owner Firoz Kassam navigated legal battles to complete the current stadium in 2001 and even said he was underlining his commitment to the club by naming it after himself.

However, Oxford’s stadium’s claim to fame is its three stands and the wind tunnel that generates, as the originally planned fourth stand was scrapped to control costs.

Kassam Stadium - Oxford United Stadium - Oxford United new stadium - Football Ground Guide 3
Photo by Icon Sport

Whilst Kassam’s commitment to the club was short-lived as he sold the club in March 2006, his name still dawns over Oxford fans as they continue to watch their club score at one end where only a fence separates them from the car park. But who cares when you’ve got a better view of the Hollywood Bowl behind it?

Kassam retained ownership of the ground as Oxford United dropped into England's fifth tier. The subsequent journey included a return to the Football League in 2010 after four non-league seasons, followed by six years in League Two before clinching automatic promotion to League One in 2016.

Currently positioned second in League One after 11 games, the unveiling of new stadium plans reflects the optimism coursing through the club.

Latest Oxford United new stadium update

Oxfordshire County Council agreed, in principle, to lease the land, known as the Triangle, to the club on 19 September 2023 and it appears the U’s have been busy since.

On 9 October, Oxford United released further details and images of their potential new home in Kidlington. The club produced detailed images and a virtual fly-through, painting a vivid picture of the proposed 16,000-capacity stadium and surrounding complex.

Part of a £100m project, the new Oxford stadium plans include a 180-bed hotel, restaurant, conference centre, health & wellbeing space, and a community plaza. The Triangle is also much better suited for public transport than the U’s current isolated home, the Kassam Stadium, as it is close to Oxford Parkway railway station and the park and ride at Water Eaton.

The club's CEO, Tim Williams, emphasised sustainability, community focus, and a state-of-the-art destination for all. Plans for improved infrastructure, green spaces, and inclusive facilities were highlighted, aligning with the club's commitment to accessibility and community benefit.

In February 2024, the club revealed that the new stadium would be the first “all-electric” stadium in the United Kingdom. The stadium will be solar-panel-powered while using heat recovery solutions around the stadium to increase thermal efficiency.

Director Jon Clarke said:

“The standout element of the stadium is it will be the most sustainable mid-sized sports venue in the country. We want to make the most of the opportunity to create something special – it would be one of the greenest football stadiums to be built.”

“The stadium design has sustainability and visitor experience at its core. We’ve maximised modern technology, design and progressive thinking to create the benchmark for the future design of stadiums with the protection of our planet in firm focus.”

When will Oxford leave the Kassam Stadium?

Oxford will unlikely play their home games at the new location until the 2025/26 campaign. That’s just as well given what we’ve already touched on re: the existing lease at the Kassam.

What will the Oxford United new stadium be like?

The capacity is perhaps the most noteworthy element. The Kassam Stadium has a capacity of 12,500. This new stadium will uplift that by around 30% with the desired capacity on opening currently at 16,000. Included in that 16,000 capacity will be safe standing zones whilst the plan is to allow for easy future expansion to add a further 2,000 seats.

The proposal and negotiations behind Oxford United's new stadium

In March 2021, Oxford United approached the council with an ambitious proposal to develop Stratfield Brake playing fields. However, this proposal faced challenges. The original site received opposition, leading to the consideration of an alternative location, the Triangle, a green belt area of approximately five hectares located east of Frieze Way and south of Kidlington roundabout.

Site of the new Oxford United stadium
Photo via Oxford County Council

Negotiations and discussions between the club and council were underway, taking into account the strategic priorities set by the council, such as maintaining a green barrier, improving public access to nature, enhancing sports facilities, and supporting sustainability initiatives.

A vision for sustainability and community

Key figures within the club, including managing director Niall McWilliams and Indonesian businessman Anindya Bakrie, who took a controlling stake in the League One club alongside Erick Thohir in September 2022, emphasised the importance of not only securing the club's long-term home but also contributing to the community. 

However, the community feeling wasn’t doing it for everyone. In May 2023, Kidlington residents voted against the proposed stadium in a non-binding poll, with 2,073 against and 928 in favour. A subsequent survey in September 2023 revealed that less than half of residents within two miles of the site believed the proposal met the council's criteria.

The decision and conditions

Despite the backlash, the pivotal moment arrived on 19 September 2023, when the council's Cabinet approved, in principle, the leasing of land at the Triangle to Oxford United for the new stadium.

However, this came with conditions, including obtaining planning permission from Cherwell District Council, producing a net-zero plan, and adhering to restrictive covenants to preserve the land for football, community sports, and limited commercial activities.

With Oxford now producing detailed plans just 20 days after this verdict, the U’s are keen to get the ball rolling. 

Oxford United's journey to its proposed new stadium reflects the intricate dance between club aspirations, public opinion, and council priorities. As the club pushes forward with its vision for a sustainable and community-focused landmark, the next chapters will unfold in the planning halls and meeting rooms, ultimately shaping the future of football in Oxford.

Heads of terms agreed between Oxford United and County Council

‘Heads of terms', the first of the wide process has not been agreed upon between Oxford United and Oxfordshire County Council. It follows extensive consultation between the club and the location authority.

And with Oxford United committing to meet the council's demands in constructing the new stadium, it means the club is now on the right trajectory towards securing a long-term homeground before the 2025/26 season.

Oxford United secured promotion to the Championship after beating Bolton 2-0 in the final of the division's playoffs. The success on the pitch further boosts Oxford's prospects in wooing prospective financiers and even sponsors as they prepare for a tough 2024/25 season in the second tier of British football.

Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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