London (AFP) – Tottenham throw open the doors of their new 62,000-capacity stadium on Wednesday, hoping it will give them the financial firepower to compete with the Premier League and European elite.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will also banking on a short-term boost, with a dire run of results threatening to leave Spurs without Champions League football next season.
Tottenham played their final game at their old White Hart Lane stadium in May 2017 but the address is the only thing that has remained the same, with a gleaming new ground rising out of the rubble of their creaking old home in north London.
The new stadium, with a capacity of 62,062, is the biggest club ground in London and second only to Manchester United’s Old Trafford in the Premier League.
Tellingly the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, built at a reported cost of £1 billion ($1.3 billion), is marginally bigger than the home of Tottenham’s great north London rivals Arsenal.
Crystal Palace are the first Premier League team to visit on Wednesday, but the stadium has ambitions beyond football — underneath the retractable turf is an artificial surface to be used for NFL games. Spurs have an agreement to stage at least two matches a year for 10 years.
In an effort to match the atmosphere at grounds such as Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, the stadium boasts a special single-tier stand with a capacity of 17,500, dubbed the “White Wall”.
And it’s not just about the action on the pitch.
Tottenham claim the stadium offers levels of food and drink that consign the old British stadium offering of pies and soggy chips to history. Craft beers are made at an on-site microbrewery — and the feature that excited many fans at the test events were pint glasses that filled from the bottom.
Spurs boss Pochettino is bowled over by the club’s new home and will hope it can give his faltering team the lift they need for a late-season push to secure a Champions League spot.
– ‘World’s best stadium’ –
“The stadium is the best in the world, we can confirm that now,” he said. “Every space is the best I have seen in my life, you can’t compare that with anything.
“It’s an amazing project, it is going to be fantastic for the future of the club. It is going to be a massive boost for our fans and it must be for our players too.”
Spurs will feel a sense of relief when they kick off against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday after months of frustrating delays that forced them to play almost a second full season at Wembley.
There were some memorable nights at the national stadium as Spurs beat Real Madrid, Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund twice. But it was never truly home.
Jurgen Klinsmann, who had two spells with the club in the 1990s, played in a test event at the new ground on Saturday.
“I’m really honoured and really happy to be here and it is such a special day to get this new stadium going,” the German said.
“Hopefully it takes Spurs into the future, with a lot of trophies.”
Tottenham will not have the luxury of time to settle into their new stadium but it could play a pivotal role for the rest of the season, with five of their remaining seven Premier League games at home as they attempt to fend off United, Arsenal and Chelsea, with four teams chasing the final two Champions League spots.
They will also take on Manchester City there in the quarter-finals of this year’s Champions League, with the first chapter of the story of their new home waiting to be written.
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