The gameday atmosphere and experience at Liverpool’s home, Anfield, is supposed to be something unlike any other. Liverpool’s Kop End faithful leave a lasting impression with their bellowing of the team’s anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”, so much so that Pink Floyd’s song “Fearless” opens and closes to a live recording of Liverpool fans singing the song.
Around this time two years ago, in the face of rumors that Liverpool FC’s new ownership group were considering a move from the club’s historic home ground, managing director Ian Ayre attended a press conference with Liverpool City Mayor Joe Anderson confirming that the club would not only be staying at Anfield but would also be looking to renovate the stadium and increase the capacity while simultaneously working with the city to redevelop and transform the surrounding Anfield area.
The plan, in addition to Anfield’s expansion, includes the development of a business hub, a new village square, a redeveloped Stanley Park, hundred’s of new homes as well as a 100-bed hotel which is expected to cost £260 million (roughly USD$426 million*) and create over 700 new jobs. The Liverpool Echo provides a much more detailed breakdown of the overall plan and progress.
Yesterday, Liverpool’s City Council Planning Committee announced that they had unanimously granted planning permission for construction on Anfield’s main stand and outline proposal’s for the Anfield Road stand.
Up to £150 million (roughly USD$246 million*) of the total £260 million is expected to go towards the stadium redevelopments and the approved first stage and proposed second stage would move the stadium from its current capacity of around 45,000 to 58,00 by expanding the main stand and the Anfield Road stand by 8,500 seats and 4,800 seats respectively. If all the plans go forward successfully, construction could begin on the main stand in early 2015 and be finished by the start of the 2016/17 season without causing an interruption to competition at the stadium.
Last season Anfield averaged a 44,671 attendance in the premier league and so far this season, Liverpool has only hosted one home Premier League match but they boasted a 98.76% full stadium with an attendance of 44,713. The league’s 6th largest stadium would move to the 3rd largest ahead of Newcastle’s St James’ Park if both expansion plans go through, so if Anfield was intimidating for visiting teams before, imagine what it will be like with almost 13,000 more fans.
Here are some renderings of the proposed expansions: