Chelsea Football Club have taken steps to increase the seating-capacity of their home ground, Stamford Bridge. The Architects Journal has reported that the club is working with Basel-based architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron, to look at the possibility of improving the capacity to nearly 60,000. Stamford Bridge currently holds just under 42,000 people. Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands are also involved in the project.
It is very important for Chelsea to go forward with the Stamford Bridge expansion plans in order to compete with other heavyweights of Europe. Clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all have capacities of at least 60,000 in their stadiums. With Chelsea firmly among the elite now, it is imperative for them too to have space for more fans in their home games to create a better atmosphere. Also with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations in full-flow, earning higher revenues through ticket sales is very important.
There have though, been several difficulties in similar attempts made in the past. The current location of Stamford Bridge, on Fulham Road, is boxed by railway lines and real estate structures belonging to the affluent. It is therefore, difficult to carry out the expansion here. The club did though, state their interest in exploring the possibility of decking over the railway lines to create walkways and cycleways.
“The study will also assess the feasibility of an expansion of the stadium within the existing historic site boundaries, potentially to enlarge its capacity, enhance its facilities and improve the movement of people and vehicles on match and non-matchdays,” an official Chelsea statement said towards the end of last season.
There have also been attempts at shifting base, but re-location plans to Earl’s Court, Battersea Power Station and White City have all fallen apart.
Herzog & de Meuron are one of the best architect firms around, having conceptualised and designed Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena and China’s ‘bird’s-nest’ Olympic Stadium. Chelsea will hope that a solution can be brought about as soon as possible.