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Football stadiums, they really are a special place, aren't they? Whether they house hundreds or tens of thousands of fans, they have a unique way of bringing together groups of people that would never ordinarily come together and, from both inside and outside, they can blow your socks off with their sometimes quirky and often simply phenomenal designs. With all of that in mind, it's not a surprise that so many people pour their energy into creating new stadium plans. Those plans though don't always become a reality and here we look at a selection of the football stadiums which nearly existed.
Chelsea Power Station Stadium, England
We kick off our look at the football stadiums which nearly existed with one of the more highly publicised attempts of a ground move. After the Roman Abramovich millions arrive at Stamford Bridge there was a lot of chatter about a ground move. The one that hogged most headlines was Chelsea’s proposed purchase of Battersea Power Station, which is located 2.5 miles away from the Blues’ current home. The 60,000 seater stadium was designed to incorporate the Battersea chimneys, which would have created quite the eye catching feature alongside four huge stands framed with white metal work. Their bid for the power station failed though and that was that – whether they’ll reignite the idea of a new stadium under the new owner, Todd Boehly, remains to be seen.
Here's a pic of how the FC Chelsea power station stadium would've looked. Never seen such a creative stadium idea. pic.twitter.com/2paT6rKn
— Matt Sabuda (@MattSabuda) June 13, 2012
Las Vegas National Sports Complex, USA
If you go across the pond they tend to do sports a little differently to us Brits and the idea of the Las Vegas National Sports Complex in Nevada was certainly a tad different. The idea was that the 485 acre site would play home to grounds for basketball, baseball and football (or soccer as the Americans call it) where they attendance could range between 17,500 and a whopping 63,500. Despite getting through planning applications, the development stalled as the city struggled to attract the relevant teams to use the arenas. That fell over a decade ago with the major US teams now playing games at the T-Mobile Arena; it’s not the same as what could have been.
Uwe Stadium, England
We will cut to the chase, this is probably the least exciting of the stadiums that never were that we discuss here but it’s relevant for sure. Bristol is probably the best city in England never to have had representation in the Premier League and whilst Bristol City boast Ashton Gate, their rivals, Rovers, have to make do with a 12,300 capacity Memorial Stadium. Uwe Stadium was supposed to move Rovers’ home to the outskirts of the city and boost their maximum capacity to nearly double the current level. Sainsbury’s (yep, the Supermarket chain) were critical in the development falling over; originally, they were going to buy Memorial Stadium and act as a landlord during the build phase of the new ground but the two parties ended up in court and an agreement was never reached. Since then, new owners have arrived and, despite wanting a stadium revamp, have declared this idea dead.
Bristol Rovers will NOT be building a new stadium at UWE.
"We will now immediately turn our attention to exploring all other opportunities" pic.twitter.com/R9X1vpCyjV
— BBC Sport Bristol (@bbcbristolsport) August 3, 2017
The Offshore Stadium, Moveable
When you talk about unique stadiums, they don’t come much more unique than the concept of the Offshore Stadium. This ground was originally thought up as a ground with the Qatar 2022 World Cup in mind. In many ways, it made a lot of sense. The stadium was to be built and used operating in the ocean in a ‘float’ like manner; it would then be moved for the next major tournament and thus reducing the pressure on host cities to build new stadiums. It sounds bonkers but floating stadiums are already a thing – see ‘The Float’ in Singapore for example. Unfortunately though, the Offshore Stadium never materialised.
The New Camp Nou, Spain
You might have guessed from the heading we’ve used but we’re now turning our attention to Barcelona and, following on from the Offshore Stadium, this one is heavily water driven too. The Camp Nou is obviously world famous and has been redeveloped over the years. Previously though, there were plans to build a new 150k capacity stadium that was to be out at sea. Unlike the ‘floating’ technique, the Barca appointed architects wanted to create a man-made island that then linked back to the mainland via a bridge. Design concepts look amazing but, hey, we suppose Camp Nou is pretty impressive anyway.
Dockland Stadium, England
Portsmouth isn’t quite Barcelona but the strong naval links on England’s south coast continue the mini water based theme we seem to have digressed into! Fratton Park is a much loved ground in English football’s heritage but we have to admit that the £600m stadium plans, which were drawn up by Herzog and De Meuron looked seriously nice. The striking stadium was to be overlooked by the Spinnaker Tower and would dominate the landscape owing to the unique shaping and glistening lights. As it happens, Pompey were bitten by the financial crisis and the stadium development never got going – and with a proposed capacity of up to 45,000, it’s unlikely to happen now they’re in League One!
Stanley Park, England
Stanley Park was originally proposed to be a new home for Liverpool, which would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Reds fans given their affinity for Anfield but it could have been a lot worse too. Not only were Manchester based architects AFL the company behind the design but there was talk of the stadium becoming a shared home for Liverpool and Everton to navigate issues with cash flow. Admittedly, the up to 73,000 capacity stadium, which took on a futuristic come space-like design, would have been quite the arena to watch football in but logistically it never felt like having the legs to make it through to the build phase. A change in club ownership officially killed off the idea with money instead being poured into Anfield.
It’s 15 years ago since Hicks & Gillette announced plans to leave Anfield for a new stadium on Stanley Park.
I think I speak on behalf of every Liverpool fan around the world when I say I’m forever thankful that this never happened. pic.twitter.com/dMuKDW6pDj
— 𝗕𝗘𝗡 (@LFCBXN_) July 25, 2022
There you have it, our guide to the football stadiums which nearly existed. Next time your team float the idea of a new stadium, maybe don't hit the panic button too soon because, as proved here, a lot don't make it off paper!