Leeds announce ambitious plans to increase Elland Road capacity
Thursday, 17th Oct 2019 22:12 by Tim Whelan
On the day that we all celebrated the centerary of Leeds United, the club announced plans to take us into our second century by increasing the stadium capacity to 50,000 and opening a new training ground in the city.
CEO Angus Kinnear unveiled the plans at a civic reception at Leeds Civic Hall which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the club, which will come to pass when we regain our rightful place in the Premier League.
He said “In our centenary year we are very proud to announce two initiatives in partnership with the council. They both fall under the title of ‘Vision: Elland Road’. Part of it is around the stadium and taking it up to 50,000 and turning it into a true ground which can compete with other stadiums in the Premier League and in Europe."
"More importantly is what we want to do with the community. We want to bring the training ground back into the city centre, not just the training ground but the academy. We announced a few weeks ago that we agreed heads of terms with the council for the former site of Matthew Murray School. The idea is to create a pathway for inner-city youth."
“We want to bring world-class facilities into our community too. We are working on the Parklife scheme with the FA which will be an £8m investment which will bring facilities onto Fullerton Park in the heart of Beeston. These facilities will be open to the local populous. We are in dialogue at the moment about what they will be. They will be sporting, educational and social. What we believe we can create is the best community facility not only in Leeds but in the country.”
And after the ceremony, Kinnear told the Yorkshire Post that cost of expanding Elland Road meant it would only be feasible once we were back in the Premier League. " I think it is appropriate for a club of Leeds’ scale and calibre. It will help us compete with teams at that level."
"The way the financials work require us to be in the Premier League before we can commence that work and before it makes sense from a business perspective. We know when we’re in the Premier League we’d sell 50,000 out week in, week out.”
Kinnear is certainly right about the demand from fans to watch a successful Leeds United side. Our current capacity is 37,890, which is down from the 40,000 we had just after the East Stand was built, thanks to Ken Bates and his later rebuild to fit more of the corporates in. Even in the Championship we are regularily selling out, with many fans unable to get tickets.
There's no doubt that we could sell 50,000 tickets for most games, and as well as giving more fans the chance to watch the team the additional ticket revenue would eventually mean the scheme would pay for itself, despite the up front cost of building the thing in the first place.
We would of course need a successful team to generate enough demand, at least challenging for the Champions League rather than bumbling along in mid-table, but with the possibility of Quatari investment that might well be on the cards.
The intention is to reach this capacity by building the West Stand up to the same height as the East Stand. Which will of course involve having to put it over the top of that banqueting suite that is now in the way, but I'm sure the architects will have it all worked out.
So it's over to Marcello Bielsa and the team. Get us up into the Premier League and we can look forward to a bright future in a stadium fit for the mid-21st century.
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