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Liverpool Stadium Dilemma: Why Liverpool Should Renovate Anfield

In 2002, Liverpool announced plans to build a new 55,000 seater stadium on Stanley Park, sparking a hot debate that has raged on from day one. Some demanded Liverpool stay and redevelop Anfield, the spiritual home of the Merseysiders. But others disagreed, saying Liverpool needed to move to Stanley Park to increase revenue from higher ticket sales.

Editor’s Note: Over the coming weeks, Mitch Cray will bring you all the options for the Reds including the two above as well as the controversial idea of a stadium share with bitter rivals, Everton. Here’s Part 1:

The Renovation Of Anfield

Is there a stadium more magical than Anfield? Is there a place where You’ll Never Walk Alone is sung by fans with such passion?

Ever since the Reds were formed way back in 1892, Anfield has been the home of Liverpool, being the location for almost every famous European Cup night and League success. And for everyone on Merseyside, Anfield is an integral part of the community. Anfield is rated as one of the world’s colosseum’s of football and has truly withstood the test of time, having been a home to the Reds for over 100 years.

And no doubt, I and most followers of football would love for it to last another 100 years.

Here’s what Barcelona midfielder, Xavi had to say about Anfield:

“All the players who go to England to play come back saying wonderful things about it (Anfield), the fans, the people. I think I would have liked it.”

However magical Anfield and the Kop is, for Liverpool to survive, they need a bigger stadium, for not only general ticket sales but also corporate ticket sales. And of course, there’s only one way to have both the history of Anfield, as well as more seating. That is; redeveloping Anfield. Some of you may be thinking, “There you go, there’s the answer! What has all this fuss been about?”

But for those who are having those thoughts, it’s not quite that simple.

First, if Liverpool redevelop Anfield, they’re going to need more space to not only fit more seats but also, give fans more space to walk around the stadium and make car parks, bus stops and other forms of transport more suitable and accessible for around 60,000 people on match day. And to do that surrounding homes will need to be demolished and residents forced out of their homes, an act which will not be easy, especially as Liverpool is ‘the people’s club’ and any feud between the club and residents would be a PR disaster.

However, the Reds can use their existing property in Stanley Park to build new apartments for those who are forced out of their homes to make way for renovations. And also, build a smaller training facility closer to Anfield for match day.

But now that problem is solved, another question needs to be asked. If Liverpool redevelop Anfield to fit 60,000 people, will it be sustainable? Will Liverpool need to upgrade to a larger stadium in the future?

We’ll discuss that and more topics in the future. In the meantime, share your opinion in the comments section below whether you believe that Liverpool should stay at Anfield and redevelop the ground. Or if they should move to Stanley Park.

Follow Mitch Cray on Twitter @mitchy__mitch

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  1. Don

    April 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    While I liked the HKS design, H&G didn’t design it, a new more modest stadium can be built in Stanley Park. The Everton Kirkby proposal was priced at 130-150 million for 55k seats. Surely a new 60k seat stadium could be built for not much more, and probably for less than redeveloping Anfield. Building a new stadium in Stanley Park can be done without a construction zone mess underfoot for a few years, the construction mess will be across the street still with a Anfield Road address. A new stadium will also attract a corporate sponsor with the naming rights which can reduce the price of construction considerably.

    Its the fans inside that give Anfield its atmosphere, not its bricks and mortar. The hallowed pitch can be relocated along with all of Anfield’s monuments. I liked the HKS design as their stadium also doubles as a conference center providing revenues in the venue everyday, not just on match days…

  2. Stevie J

    March 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Not sure why some people are putting an attendance ceiling of 60,000 spectators on Anfield, with imaginative design and local authority planning permissions it can be much greater, so much greater it could eclypse the total of that place up the East Lancs Road.

    It’s not correct to say that council have limited a redevelopment to 55,000 – 60,000. That figure came from a report done in 2002 comparing a 55,000 redevelopment with a new 60,000 stadium and the club went on to make an application for the latter. They have NEVER applied to redevelop Anfield at any size and so council would not be in a position to have a view on it, ie., if you don’t formally ask the question, you don’t know the formal answer.

    Look at the foot print to Anfield (inclusive of the now owned area to the rear of Anfield Road and the houses in Lothiar Road) and it is bigger than St James’ Park, Newcastle. The idea and imagination is to match the deoth of the KOP and not the height. The KOP is the deepest of all the stands and therefore importance should be prioritised in raising it’s angle of incline. That may need to be rounded to the rear like lots of modern stadium but a steeper incline and filling in of the quadrants proportionately increase the attendance massively.

    Although as mentioned earlier, no plans to redevelop Anfield have ever been submitted since before 2001, plans have been drawn up and also, land has been obtained.

    There is also the possibillity of lowering the pitch and that negates the need to be concerned about “right for light” for residents. To do that means Anfield Road is key to any redevelopment, that is the main constraint but seeing as we own the land to the rear and have now demolished the old houses (some Grade listed I may add, so planning didn’t cause an issue there), expanding Anfield to 76,700 seats is a real possibillity as long as we dangle the carrot to the council and compensate them respectively whilst keep residents happy with infrastructure changes.

    If the KOP is raised in height by incline then all other stands can be and they will all be proportionate in height, quadrants micro space managed and additional tiers to the current main stand and new tiers to the Anfield Road stand.

    It’s possible, just think outside the box, who would have thought H & G would have sought permission in a short period of time for that monstosity in Stanley Park?

    Kepp Anfield, keep the faith, if Arsenal survive on 60,000 then I’m sure we can more than survive on a figure more than that as we are solvent as a club.

    Don’t forget, NESV no longer exists, we are part of FSG now and that means finances can be dispersed between all franchises in the group, the club is owned by 17 financiers, one is the New York Times and believe you me, this means we are a very rich club.

    We came second to the Mancs on Commercial Revenue last year, only by a short distance of just under £3million and they have double our capacity but £700million more debt.

  3. BERRY

    February 23, 2011 at 5:12 am

    I think you’ll find that its Everton who are the ‘peoples club’ not thi shower of s&%@e

    • redhed17

      February 23, 2011 at 8:40 am

      Ah, Everton ‘the peoples club’. Depends what you mean by that apart from a slogan.

      Do most of Everton’s fans reside in the city? Probably, but that is because they don’t attract enough from far and wide.
      Do Everton have more fans in Merseyside then? I don’t think so, however much Everton may believe that. Just seeing the amount of people walking around with LFC shirts, and the number of people I know who are EFC or LFC fans leads me to think that Liverpool are by far the most popular in Merseyside.

      Feel free to disagree. I’m just going by personal experience.

  4. El Tri 2014

    February 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    It’s interesting that no one really picked up on whether the pitch is the ‘hollowed ground’ of a legendary team like LFC. But I suppose if you could rebuild Yankee stadium, you can rebuild any stadium in the world, pitch or diamond be damned. Few stadiums like Chicago’s Soldier Field actually have a ‘hallowed ground’ field, another would probably be Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. But then neither are 30K seaters that necessitate being bigger for more cash. So if LFC fans can leave the Anfeld pitch behind for the future, then I suppose it’s alright and makes sense in the end. Build on Stanley Park, then move when it’s completed and then take 1 year demolishing Anfeld.

  5. Keith

    February 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I don’t know what LFC should do but I do know it is possible for a stadium to be massively renovated and still have the team play in it.

    Michigan football just increased their stadium size by creating a whole slew of corporate boxes. Now the actual capacity hasn’t increased a lot (how can it from 107,501?) but the profits are supposed to increase nearly 20-25% and the team never moved during the rebuilding. Technically now the capacity is only 2,000 more but I know this year they had 113,000+ at a couple of games so 6,000 plus seats all from corporate suites isn’t bad.

    As a Chelsea fan I’m more worried about what Chelsea can do. Is there an undeveloped part of central London? I think Chelsea might have to actually build a stadium on the Thames /s.

    • Tuttle

      February 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      I’m not sure about UM, but the University of Tennessee’s 100,000+ behemoth in Knoxville was designed from day one to eventually be expanded to ~105k in easy steps. When I was a kid in the 70s Neyland Stadium was a 70,000 seater horse-shoe and it’s now a 102,000 seater bowl (the plans were made in 1948 when they removed the bleachers and built a 30,000 seat stadium). And they’ve never missed a home game due to expansion.

      As for England… I’m a Wednesday fan. Seating is not our primary problem.

      • Keith

        February 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm

        Michigan’s “Big House” was never built with the future in mind. It’s a really, really basic bowl (well 2 straight sides and curves in the endzones) shape and they just keep adding more and more to the outside. Then they decided to build gorgeous luxury boxes at the top parallel to the sidelines. They are way up but they have an amazing view.

        It’s amazing to me how there are zero 100k plus stadiums in the UK. I would think any of the old 4 elite teams would have the fan base for such a thing. I honestly think the problem with Chelsea is finding space. Look at the problem Tottenham are having and imagine how much worse it is in the Chelsea/Fulham area.

        • SeminoleGunner

          February 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm

          I have wondered about the lack of super stadiums in England as well. Old Trafford is a monster by Premier League standards at ~75,000, but would only be in the middle of the pack among Southeastern Conference football stadiums. How is it possible for one of the ultra elite clubs in the world of sports to play in a facility comparable to that at the University of Arkansas?

          My best guess is that it comes down the the number of home games the teams play. If Manchester United only played 6-8 home games a season (like an American college team), a 100,000 seat stadium would probably be a good investment for them.

          Perhaps the lack of actual seats in American college super stadiums makes a bit of a difference as well. A Premier League team would not be able to get away with outfitting a stadium with only bleachers.

          • redhed17

            February 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm

            I think that there a few factors with led to UK stadiums being the size they are;
            1. The size of the population, which relates to the sizes of (mainly) towns and cities.
            2. The number of different, in this case football teams, in quite close proximity to each other. There are 92 league teams, and many teams outside the top 4 English league divisions, nevermind the Scottish, Welsh and Irish leagues.
            3. When a lot of the present stadiums were designed, the fans were mostly standing, so the actual capacities were larger than they are now. The move to all seater stadium reduced capacities of all the stadiums at the time.

            Now that it is easier to travel, and some teams can draw fans from far and wide, the need for some teams to build larger stadiums exist. I think Liverpool being one of the largest and most famous teams in the World should be planning for a world class stadium, and while Anfield has the history, no one can claim it to be that, and adding bits on to it to increase capacity would not make all of it world class.

      • Troy

        February 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

        On a side note, I was really bummed to see Wednesday crash out… made me sad (seriously)

  6. Dave B.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Did this really need to be broken into more than one part? This is pretty short and nothing but the regurgitation of what has been written a thousand times.

  7. DaveWestAus

    February 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

    A new stadium is the answer!On the other side of Anfield Rd(still in ‘ANFIELD’).The Hillsborough memorial could be a few paces from where it is now!
    I started watching the REDS in 1952(boys pen),and lived in Spellow Lane(Royal Oak Hotel),and went to school in Priory Rd,opposite the Park! I have loved LFC ever since,just the same as all other LFC fans.I had my brother’s ashes scattered on the pitch in front of the ‘KOP’.He & I followed the team everywhere,(Wembley 1965 etc:).The memories of Anfield as it is will never die!
    HOWEVER’ I feel that LFC need to think of the future and future fans! If this club is to regain it’s status then it should be moving on!
    Redevelopement,(more add-ons!),would be money wasted and will cause more problems like alterations to Anfield Rd & Walton Breck Rd,which would create havoc with traffic!.Knocking down adjacent houses that could otherwise be left standing and be sold off again at a profit!
    Matches would have to be played elsewhere during redevelopement – more expence and loss of revenue etc; and a pain in the arse for fans!
    The site in Stanley Park is magnificent for a new stadium, which would be on view from many miles around,(possibly from the ‘motorways’).
    When I recall all the memories,and think of my brother etc,(the present pitch could be moved to Stanley Park(ashes and all-problem solved!),I feel convinced that a NEW STADIUM is the way to the future.A new ground would be complete and should’n’t require any further developement!

  8. nv

    February 22, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Redevelop Anfield,the temple of the king.
    The owners will be able to invest more money on players.we badly need to win the premiership title.

  9. redhed17

    February 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Xavi’s comments were about the Liverpool fans. It’s the fans that make the atmosphere, not so much the stadium. That can be seen when the fans are quiet at Anfield, which happens more often than it used to.

    Liverpool need a larger stadium to compete with Utd, Chel$ki, Arsenal and Man City, re-developing Anfield would be a mistake imho as there would be loss of revenue whilst the building work was happening, the possible increase in capacity would be more limited than on a new build, and there wouldn’t be the disruption to the local area that any extension into the surrounding housing and onto the main Walton Breck Road could possibly result from extension.

    I think the owners are looking for the cheaper option, and trying to copy what they did in America with the Red Sox, but they were able to increase prices and corporate facilities to pay for the building work. I doubt they have the scope to do that as much in Liverpool.

  10. varun

    February 22, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Move to Stanley park!!
    For two main reasons:
    1. It will not disrupt the home matches of the season. As we will have to look to another venue to host the home matches while anfield is bieng rebuilt.
    2. The capacity of the new stadium can be easily increased whereas increasing anfield will not be feasible in terms of security. Anfield is a very old stadium.

    3. Much work needs to be done to make anfield a modern venue, while it will be far easier to build a modern stadium with more corporate boxes.
    4. Its the people at the matchdays who create the atmosphere not the stadium.
    5.Y not start a new era with new owners, new manager, new players, and a brand new stadium.

    • Larsen

      February 22, 2011 at 8:52 am

      You clearly have to do your homework on why we say Anfield should be redeveloped. Its not because its magical but it was one of the reason why LFC is here.

      • Varun

        February 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

        I do not see the reason why anfield is the factor of liverpool’s progress down the years. Lets say we were played in another stadium, wouldnt we have that much success. The atmosphere its the supporters who create it not the stadium. We build another stadium, so the supporters stop getting after their team?? The emotion thing thats keeping liverpool from competing again. We should be able to compete financially with the other super powers to be successful else we’ll always be seen as a historical club not a powerful one. Nottingham Forest are a historical club too but where are they?? And with the implementation of the fair play rule, it will become tougher to compete if we remain at anfield. Lets face it, we are currently the 8th(i think) richest club in the world. Arsenal were not even in the top 10 before they moved to Emirates. Barcelona and Real have stadiums with capacities of > 80000. Anfield can be expanded up to 60000 only.

        • Nick

          February 22, 2011 at 11:44 pm

          You said:
          “I do not see the reason why anfield is the factor of liverpool’s progress down the years”

          Thats just it! You just don’t get it, do you?

          If you want a rich club and forget history, passion and love for the Liverpool Way, maybe its time you start waving a blue plastic flag.

          LFC does not need a billion dollars to get back on top again.

          Redevelop Anfield to the maximum, do not kill the soul of our great club by destroying the ground.

          Liverpool Football Club = Fans + Anfield.

      • Nick

        February 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

        Totally agree with you, Larsen.

        Sigh! some people just don’t get it……Anfield is LFC, LFC is Anfield!

  11. Yinka

    February 22, 2011 at 8:27 am

    If a new Anfield could be developed to hold at least 75,000 (seventy five thousand), then developning it would be reasonable; if not, it’s best to build a new stadium at Stanley Park.

  12. Bazza

    February 22, 2011 at 8:15 am

    As someone who travels 200 miles to home games

    To be honest a 60,00 stadium would be sufficient for Liverpool as we are like the scum down the road in that we rely heavily on fans from outside LIverpool. I travel up the M5 & M6 each home game and whichever services I stop at it is full of Liverpool fans. With the ever increasing cost of transport etc the cost of going to a match is becoming out of the reach of a lot of people. Also if there are too many fans who go to the odd game then the atmosphere will end up like old trafford (crap).

    An alternative would be to build a 60,000 stadium which can easily be increased if later required.

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