Some stadiums across the globe are hallowed ground.
Exactly how they reach that status can be determined by a whole host of factors, but they just have something special about them that sets them apart from the rest. A certain smell, an aura as you walk through the gates and an atmosphere that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield home is one of those iconic sporting venues across the world. That’s exactly why the decision to expand the capacity at Anfield rather than build a brand-new stadium in the suburbs is the right option.
On Wednesday morning American owner John W Henry gave an update on the Premier League sides planned redevelopment of their 122 year home, and believes work will start soon.
“We are making good progress,” Henry said. “There are a lot of different groups working very well together and that’s the key to a big project like this happening, when everybody is on the same page. When everybody is on the same page, we move forward.”
Henry, Liverpool FC and locals have been trying to hammer out a deal for quite some time and this saga looks to be coming to an end. The big obstacle to overcome is buying the remaining houses that are located directly next to Liverpool’s stadium as they need to be demolished as the current Main Stand and Anfield Road end are extended. However should a new ground be built to add extra infrastructure and allow Liverpool to expand the capacity even further in the future?
You only have to look at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium to see what a huge commercial success that has been. Despite the huge costs up front, the Gunners are now benefiting from attracting 60,000 fans a week and could expand further with endless possibilities.
But the idea is to make Anfield into a 60,000 seater stadium, so only Manchester United would have a bigger capacity in the entire Premier League.
Most of Liverpool’s fans are anxious to see the plans pushed through after almost a decade of failed stadium attempts under several different ownership groups. And just like he did with the redevelopment of Fenway Park as owner of the Boston Red Sox, Henry has promised that Anfield will be upgraded tastefully and funds will be available for the project.
“I think we were clear at one point that what made financial sense was going in this direction – and this is the direction that makes financial sense for the club for a long time,” Henry said. “Obstacles are being overcome. We have always said you have to have certainty with regard to the properties because of the height of the stand and all of the issues regarding that. So that’s been the biggest issue.”
I definitely agree with this approach to safeguard Liverpool’s home at Anfield instead of building an entirely different stadium that would totally lose the character and historic vibe that Liverpool’s home exudes.
Previous American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett couldn’t get the funding to build a brand new stadium but if they had been successful huge levels of debt would have put Liverpool in a perilous situation. The decision by Henry and Fenway Sports Group to add 15,000 seats to Anfield and increase the capacity to 60,000 is a win for nostalgia and fans of the beautiful game.
Seeing stadiums like Highbury and Maine Road demolished were sad, but needed in the case of Arsenal and Manchester City who simply couldn’t renovate further. Liverpool’s decision to kick on with the renovations of their historic home should please all soccer fans.
One of the most inspiring stadiums in world soccer is here to stay. Or so it seems.