60,000 stadium could be part of Eastlands development

City today announced an agreement with the council and New East Manchester to develop the area around Eastlands. Precise plans have yet to be confirmed but could include expanding the stadium  capacity to 60,000 with a vast new training complex being built opposite.

The official announcement can be seen on the MCFC site, while a more interesting article that mentions developing the North Stand to give the 60,000 capacity can be seen on Crain’s site. The MEN has more detailed information about the ‘fan zone’ which will be in place for next season.

The ‘fan zone’ includes market stalls along Joe Mercer Way on matchdays, hanging banners around the stadium  and putting an illuminated ‘halo’ around the club shop. In an attempt to improve the look and feel of Eastlands, this sounds similar to the ‘my first match’ theme which has been used to decorate the interior of the stadium.

Garry Cook has always been keen to emphasize the importance of expanding the club globally, while equally improving the visitor experience and enhancing the club’s ties with the community and local supporters. The fan zone is clearly being done with the latter in mind.

For the players and Academy the big news is the new training facility. Apparently the club have spent 14 months looking at training facilities around the world and are now set to develop the 60 acre site on the other side of Ashton New Road. Comparisons have been made to AC Milan’s ‘Milanello‘.

While this is an exciting development, I’m not convinced it’s necessary to have the training facilities so close to the stadium. Most of the players live in affluent parts of Cheshire, where commuting to Carrington during the week is easier than Beswick in the rush hour. Developing the tree lined ambience of Milanello and it’s lake might also be a bit of a stretch in an urban location.

The Press Association article, which is appearing on most sites, says the club will look into the financial viability of extending the stadium capacity. The Cain’s article goes further:

“The north stand at the council-owned stadium, on which the club has a 250-year lease, will be extended to bring the ground capacity up to 60,000, making it the fourth largest after Wembley, Old Trafford and Arsenal’s ground the Emirates Stadium.”

As has been documented in the past, the City of Manchester Stadium isn’t geared to expansion, with the roof being a single structure. It will be interesting to see how any changes would work. Aeshetically it may not be an improvement to extend just the one stand.

However, with Tottenham and Liverpool looking to build 60,000 stadia and Newcastle having a 55,000 capacity, it will be essential to have a minimum 60,000 stadium (and fill it) if we’re to succeed in our long term ambition of being a leading club.

New Uefa rules will limit the personal investment by Sheikh Mansour in player purchases and wages, so increasing our match day revenues is vital. The figures released last week by Deloitte for the 2008/09 season made for interesting reading in this regard:

Matchday revenue 2008/09
Man United £108.8
Arsenal £100.1m
Chelsea £74.5m
Liverpool £42.5m
Tottenham £39.5m
Newcastle £29m
City £20.8m

Even with Champions League football our current capacity would only allow for limited improvement in this table. London prices clearly make a difference as we already have a higher capacity than Tottenham, yet they had nearly twice as much revenue.

According to Crain’s, more details of the planned developments are expected to be unveiled next week at MIPIM, the international property show in Cannes, where Garry Cook will be present. Exciting times!

  • What are your thoughts on the possible developments? Do you have any more information?
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  1. The roof isn’t a single structure – the covering at the ‘ends’ is supported by the roofs on the sides (remember how it looked during the Commonwealth Games). Both the North and South stands could accomodate an added tier without too much disruption but to enlarge the East and Colin Bell stands would be impractical. If the expansion does go ahead, I hope they increase it to 61,000 as it would then hold more than the Emirates.

  2. I always thought it may be more feasible to dig down and add the extra 12,000 that way. Another tier could be added or just extended to the current lower tier as the pitch is quite a long way from the seats.

  3. This pitch is already 8 meters below street level plus with the gradient of the stand it would mean the pitch would have to be smaller than Stokes.

  4. Yeah I suppose that would make sense. Can’t see how they are going to increase the capacity to the stadium without looking like an eyesore i.e. Old Trafford/St. James Park with all different sized stands.

  5. The North and South stands could be developed on these lines but in blue hopefully.


  6. Thanks for the picture link Boris. That looks pretty good to me. I’d hope we’d have the roof covering all the front seats in Manchester though!

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