Here’s a super article (long) to read about how the new stadium plans came about. Interesting to note that:-
- NFL contributing £120m toward cost of NFL facilities.
- Archway received less in compensation than originally offered.The grass pitch is to float on a bed of air and magnets.
Tottenham‘s new stadium plans have been mooted for several years now and, finally, work began on the £400 million development earlier this year.
The plans have been scrutinised and pored over by the club’s long-suffering fans – from NFL fixtures to Safe Standing – but how exactly were decisions on the new ground made? And what sort of challenges did the club come up against when pushing for the new stadium?
We sat down for an exclusive chat with a member from the Spurs Consultation Committee, who has witnessed the evolution of the project from day one.
Due to non disclosure agreements, he decided to remain anonymous…
So, you were on the Spurs Consultation Committee which pushed for and worked towards the construction of the new stadium is that correct?
In the early stages of the process the club reached out to supporters for feedback via a Consultation Committee which was made up of supporters of every demographic, in 2012 the club formally recognised the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust and the method in which the club sought supporter feedback changed to them. It’s more effective and clearer that way.
The club listened to the supporters A LOT during the design processes, the biggest and most obvious one being the new ‘South Stand’ which we felt should remain as very much the hardcore home supporters end and be a single tier similar to other stadiums in Europe effectively rigging the acoustics of the Stadium in our favour meaning the 17,000 in that stand would make enough noise to be heard from space J
What sort of challenges did you come up against while pushing for the new stadium?
Spurs have been looking at Stadium ideas since the mid-nineties, like many clubs the introduction of the all seater stadiums really hit our capacity, the last significant work done on White Hart Lane was adding a second tier to the South Stand and that opened in 1998, our current capacity sits at 36,224 (actually it’s currently closer to 30,000 as the north east corner has already been knocked down as the building works on the new ground gather pace.
There have been many options and suggestions for Spurs new stadium the ill-fated and ill thought out Pickets Lock proposal would have seen us leave Tottenham and effectively ground share with UK athletics, the idea was flawed from the start, poor transport links, location, costs and perhaps worst of all for the supporters a running track.
The idea was abandoned. The preference of the supporters and the club has always been to stay in Tottenham, it’s been our home since our inception in 1882 and unlike our near neighbours in North London we were not keen on moving.
The process of purchasing land around the existing ground to build a new stadium actually started over a decade ago, the club hedging their bets that if we ended up having to leave Tottenham we could sell the additional land to developers anyway. It was in 2007 when the club announced plans to potentially redevelop White Hart Lane by adding additional tiers and the likes, not dissimilar to the project Liverpool are currently undertaking to expand Anfield.
This seemed like a sensible option, however as it progressed it became apparent that we simply couldn’t do it, the stadium is bordered by a very busy main road, a school, homes and businesses, expanding upwards and outwards simply wasn’t an option. During this time however the club were still quietly buying up land around the existing ground. Early planning applications however were being rejected or stalled by the local council.
This in itself was completely unbelievable, Tottenham Hotspur are by far and away the biggest source of revenue in the area and it seemed at one point as if they were going to push us out of the Borough, I maintain to this day that the ill fated bid for the Olympic Stadium was in fact the club effectively playing ‘chicken’ with the local council, forcing them to see that if they didn’t at least try to cooperate then we would walk away, the idea of moving to Stratford was reviled by the supporters and in reality had absolutely NO CHANCE of succeeding as rather than adapting a completely unsuitable stadium for football (as West Ham have done) we were going to knock it down and build a new ground, diverting athletics away from the stadium completely.
It was around this time that suddenly the council started playing ball and planning hearings started happening quickly and regularly and red tape vanished.
Now, the planning, there were numerous bidders involved in the process, I will not name any however it’s safe to say that some were completely inappropriate.
In 2009 a planning application was submitted and approved for a 56,000 seater stadium on a site overlapping with the present ground and using the land to the north of the stadium that was now mostly owned by the club.
The remaining premises were to be subject to compulsory purchase orders, most of which were straightforward as the occupiers knew by this stage that the stadium development was happening one way or another and in fairness to the club everyone was offered a good market value rate for their property and additional assistance WITH ONE NOTABLE EXCEPTION, Archway Steel, they were a company that had run a steel works factory on the site just North of White Hart Lane for more than 50 years, they fought the CPO on the grounds that they too were a local business and employed 17 (yes seventeen) people.
The case was well publicised in the media and ended up in the Highest Court in the Land, their case was ultimately unsuccessful although it took the best part of three years to come to a conclusion and in a cruel twist of fate the compensation Spurs were ordered to pay to get them to move was in fact A LOT less than the offer initially made by the club.
There have been 4-5 major changes to the design of the stadium since the initial planning application and it was in 2014 the pretty much final design of a 61,882 seater stadium was approved and passed for construction.
Now, there’s the issue of financing, you don’t just pop down to your bank and get a quick loan for £700,000,000, there were several share issues to raise funds and like most new stadiums the naming rights are currently out to tender. I know a fair amount about this process but alas an NDA (non disclosure agreement) prevents me from saying much more than this. We’re hopeful that the naming rights deal will cover AT LEAST half the cost of the stadium construction though, probably over an initial 10 year deal.
NFL London? Who said what now?!
This was an unexpected twist and when the club initially announced they were in talks with the NFL to host American Football on our hallowed ground there was nothing short of an uproar, however we should have had more faith in Mr Levy (Spurs Chairman) as once explained the commercial side of it makes a massive amount of sense.
The stadium plans were to be adapted to allow the grass playing surface to be ‘floated’ on a bed of air and magnets (very clever technology I can’t hope to explain) and be moved under the South Stand into an artificial environment complete with lighting and water to keep the playing surface in top condition, underneath these there will be a state of the art 4G surface for playing NFL on.
This also opens up a whole new commercial avenue for the club in that we can host concerts without wrecking the pitch with those awful plastic pallets used to cover the playing surface at Wembley, the Emirates, the Olympic Stadium and the likes.
The stadium is also designed to lend itself to big concerts in terms of acoustics and will be second only to Wembley for concert in the ‘round’ capacity. For the privilege of this the NFL are contributing in excess of £120m to the project so it’s paying for itself several times over.
I was present at the ground breaking for the new ground and I have to admit I shed a tear, it’s been a long hard road.
So tell us a bit about the new stadium, what can we expect?
I’ve already touched on this, however you can expect one of the best stadiums in the World, the designers and architects have been responsible for creating some of the very best stadiums in the World including the Dallas Cowboys stunning new stadium in Arlington, the Emirates, Wembley and the likes.
We also have an advantage in that our near neighbours moved into the Emirates about a decade ago, now don’t get me wrong visually the Emirates is a fantastic ground, there’s very little wrong with it, however we’ve been able to learn from the few mistakes they made and correct them.
We’ll be closer to the pitch than supporters in any stadium of comparible size in Europe and the ground will almost immediately be credited with UEFA and FIFA Elite stadium status (a status held by a surprisingly small number of grounds in Europe) which will make us eligible to host major finals like the Champions League and Europa League, I have absolutely no doubt that’s going to happen.
The stadium is also going to be fully equipped to host NFL and concerts, the NFL will actually have their own dressing rooms so our kit man won’t even need to move the boys stuff when the NFL are in town. It’s going to be stunning. There’s always a risk that we turn into a ‘souless bowl’ however that’s down to the supporters and will the new South Stand being the biggest single tiered stand in the UK holding 17,000 home supporters, I am pretty confident we’ll make ourselves heard.
Do you think there will ever be Safe Standing in England, as has been introduced up at Celtic Park?
This has been the subject of a massive amount of discussion at Supporters Trust Meetings and the likes, from what I can gather the club are completely in favour of it and the new ground (South Stand in particular) has been designed to make such a transition very easy. It would mean fundamental changes in the rules from FIFA down, I know it’s being trialled seemingly very successfully at Celtic Park and several grounds in Germany also have safe standing areas, however it’s not allowed for Champions League games.
I think it’s going to happen, I hope it happens and I will campaign for it to happen, I just don’t know when. I remember standing in the terraces in my formative years and it was amazing, although it could also be scary at times. Things have changed since then and safe standing is exactly what it’s called SAFE! I wouldn’t be in favour of the whole stadium going that way, but certainly portions of it.
And what about the future for Spurs? Can you win the league in the next few years?
In a word, no, probably not. I think we’ve a great squad and a great manager however the Premier League is insanely strong and just about any team can beat any of the others. We have a habit of dropping points in games we really should be winning. But hey, who knows, if we learnt anything from last season it is that if you string the results together anyone can win the league. Blackburn have done it, Leicester have done it. I would need about a month off work if it happened just to get over it. We should be aiming for a regular top four position. People also need to remember that we’ve a season at Wembley to play and then there will be a settling in period in the new stadium, almost every single club that’s moved into a brand new ground has experienced this.
I have to be honest our last ever game at White Hart Lane is going to be against Manchester United (subject to change) and it’s going to be a very emotional day, I got tearful watching the North East corner get knocked down White Hart Lane has been our home for over 100 years and it’s been my spiritual home for more than 30 years, my son has also started attending games with me and it’s abundantly clear already that Spurs are in his blood even at the age of 6, it will be a sad sad day leaving that old ground for the last time, but you know what, then I look over my shoulder at the new ground rising almost by the day and I can’t wait.