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Having seen plans shelved earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Liverpool are set press ahead with the proposed expansion of Anfield.
Owners Fenway Sports Group have long wanted to expand the stadium and increase capacity to help go some way to meeting demand, with the Main Stand development completed in 2016 a key part of their longer term strategy for the Reds.
Plans to further expand the capacity by an additional 7,000 seats in the Anfield Road End would take the stadium capacity up to 61,000 as well as creating additional revenue streams through commercial activity.
The plans were halted in March as the onset of the COVID-19 crisis hit but it is now very much back on the agenda for Liverpool, who are expected to formally submit a planning application to Liverpool City Council in the coming weeks.
The development is expected to be an 18-month build process with the work, as with the Main Stand, going on via a structure to the rear of the stand during the football season before the more intrusive work is carried out on during the summer months.
For Liverpool the £60m build will yield financial benefits in the longer term.
Firstly, one of the key driving forces behind the move in the first place was to maximise what they could do with the capacity at Anfield and go a little way further to servicing the huge demand for tickets.
The Anfield Road end will continue to accommodate a mixture of home and away fans, the number of away fans being up to 9,000, with the increased capacity bringing in more in terms of matchday revenue.
The financial year 2016/17, after the completion of the Main Stand at Anfield in 2016, saw the Reds’ matchday revenue jump £12m due to the increase in hospitality sales and the extra capacity the development brought about.
While the redevelopment of the Anfield Road End won’t have an impact on hospitality it will provide the Reds with the chance to host more conferences and meetings, with the only space available to do so at present being in the Main Stand. And with the global attraction of Liverpool and Anfield as a destination, meetings and conferences can be lucrative, albeit quite how lucrative will depend on a return to some normality post coronavirus.
Also part of the plans for the redevelopment, which is being constructed predominately of red brick with a central glazed section in keeping with the rest of the stadium redevelopment, will be the opportunity to host further major events on the pitch away from the football.
Liverpool have a temporary permission, expiring next year, to hold up to six events on the pitch in the closed football season, excluding July, with the new proposals being sought to include unrestricted hosting of events on the Anfield pitch.
This would open up a potentially huge revenue stream for the Reds, with the likes of the NFL already keen to bring more games to the UK having enjoyed success with their games at Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur’s £1bn new stadium, something that has proved very lucrative for Spurs.
With the strong connections to US sport through FSG’s ownership of the MLB franchise the Boston Red Sox and the potential for FSG to add another sporting franchise to their stable stateside, possibly in the NFL, it could tie in well with America’s most successful sporting product, American football, with the chance to bring games to the North of England appealing to the decision makers in the US.
If given the green light, it would take Fenway Sports Group’s spending on infrastructure on the club beyond the £200m mark after that £110m Main Stand redevelopment in 2016 and the £50m AXA Training Centre at Kirkby, which officially opened earlier this month.
Liverpool managing director Andy Hughes said: “We have been clear from the start that the expansion would be based on three things: financial viability and sustainability, the successful navigation of the complex planning landscape and with the co-operation of local residents and the community.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has offered a contribution to that consultation process.
«We feel that we now have a proposal that has been informed by our neighbours, will support the wider economy and provide an opportunity for more of our fans to come to Anfield to support our great team.
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