Oxford United New Stadium

Capacity16 000
Country England
CityOxford
ClubsOxford United FC
CategoryDesign awaiting implementation
Cost£150 M ($191 M)
Construction2025–2026
Design AFL Architects

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Oxford United New Stadium – design description

What is the vision for a new stadium for Oxford United in a nutshell?

Kassam Stadium opened in 2001 and became the new home for Oxford United football club. As there were disagreements between the club and the stadium's owner, after less than two decades United began planning to build a new stadium of their own.

The facility is to stand in an entirely new location on the northern outskirts of the city, and should be built by the summer of 2026. The new stadium is to hold 16,000 spectators and feature a number of environmentally friendly solutions.

What, in detail, is the story behind plans to build a new stadium for Oxford United?

Where has Oxford United played so far?

The home of Oxford United FC is Kassam Stadium, which opened in 2001. The facility was built to replace the outdated Manor Ground, where the team had played since 1925. Construction of Kassam Stadium began in 1996, but was halted in late 1997 due to the club's financial problems.

Construction of the stadium was completed only after entrepreneur Firoz Kassam took over the team and brought it out of financial trouble. The facility was built with three stands – the fourth, behind the west goal, was not built to reduce costs, and also due to Oxford United's poor results at the time. The capacity of the stadium is 12,500 spectators.

Why did Oxford United start planning to build a new stadium?

In 2006 Firoz Kassam sold the club, but remained the owner of the stadium. The cooperation between the club and Kassam did not go well. In 2013, Oxford United supporters managed to obtain protective status for the stadium – as an Asset of Community Value, which they did out of fear that the venue would be sold for development.

Between February 2018 and April 2019, Kassam issued a winding-up petition for Oxford United five times, after the club was late in paying dues for the use of the stadium. The parties managed to reach an agreement, but the club began to realize that it could not rely on cooperation with Kassam in the long term.

In May 2019, club director Niall McWilliams admitted that United were thinking of building their own facility and were analyzing various locations for the development. Kassam Stadium's lease expires in mid-2026 and, according to the club, there is no option for it to be renewed (although Kassam itself has hinted that it is open to further cooperation).

Where should Oxford United's new stadium stand?

In the course of consideration, Oxford United analyzed 64 different sites for the construction of a new stadium. Of these, the club was particularly interested in a plot of land located near Oxford Parkway train station, on the northern outskirts of the city, just outside its administrative boundaries (between Oxford and Kidlington) and in a completely different location from Kassam Stadium, which is based in the southern part of Oxford.

Initial plans called for the stadium to be built on the site of the Stratfield Brake playing fields, but later the focus shifted to a plot of land just next to it, in the northern part of the so-called "triangle" – an area bounded on three sides by Oxford Road, Frieze Way and the A34 road, covering an area of 5 hectares (12.3 acres). Previously, a willow plantation was carried out at this site.

The area is well connected – in addition to the train station, there is also a large parking lot here, and the main roads used by public transport buses run through here.

In March 2021, the club first approached the Oxfordshire authorities with a proposal to build a stadium on the site. In early 2022, Oxford United issued a statement, saying that the "triangle" was their preferred location for the stadium, and made a formal proposal to Oxfordshire County Council to enter into a lease for the site – for 250 years!

What are the problems associated with the plot of land on which the new Oxford United stadium is to stand?

The chosen site is located within the Green Belt (Oxfordshire Green Belt), an area with special legal status established to preserve green and agricultural land around Oxford. Undertaking construction projects in this area is significantly hampered and is only allowed in particularly justified cases.

In the case of Oxford United, it is cited as the main argument justifying the investment that the construction of a new stadium will allow the survival of a club whose traditions date back to the 19th century, which has a large fan base and is important to the local community.

What was the development of the case for building a new stadium for Oxford United?

After the club submitted a proposal to lease the site in early 2022, a series of discussions and consultations began. In May and September 2023, two non-binding votes were held among local residents, in which those opposed to the stadium's construction gained the majority.

Nonetheless, on September 19, 2023, Oxfordshire County Council, subject to certain conditions (obtaining a planning permission, introducing environmentally friendly solutions, etc.), agreed to the lease. The corresponding agreement was signed in May 2024.

Even before the lease was approved, the club took concrete steps to move the matter of stadium construction forward. On June 1, 2023, it was announced that AFL Architects (known, for example, for designing Lusail Stadium, which hosted the 2022 World Cup final), assisted by Ridge and Partners LLP, Mott MacDonald and Fabrik, would develop the design for the new stadium.

The first renderings for the concept of the new stadium, created by a team of architects, were published on October 9, 2023. The issuance of planning permission is at the disposal of Cherwell District Council – the relevant application was submitted by the club in February 2024.

Meanwhile, Oxford United players won promotion to the EFL Championship in 2024 (the last time the club played in the second tier of the competition was in 1998/99).

When will Oxford United's new stadium be built?

If successful, the construction of the new stadium would take up to 18 months, and the stadium would be ready in the summer of 2026 – just after the expiration of the Kassam Stadium lease, for the start of the 2026/27 season. The cost of the investment was initially estimated at more than £100 million, according to information from March 2024 it is already expected to be in the £130-150 million range. The construction is to be financed by the club.

What does the concept of a new stadium for Oxford United entail?

What will the new Oxford United stadium be like?

The stadium will be given a closed, rectangular form, with rounded corners. The stands surrounding the field will be of uniform height. The auditorium will be single-level, although the main stand will be marked by a division into an upper and lower section. Above the stands on the north and west sides will be glazed boxes.

The capacity of the stadium is expected to be 16,000 spectators (compared to 12,500 at Kassam Stadium), of which a quarter of the stands will be equipped with barriers to convert it into safe standing areas. The facility will also offer space for 130 people using wheelchairs, for whom a special platform in the southwest corner will be dedicated.

The stands will be fully covered with a roof. The final sections of the canopy will be glazed, plus there will be 1,200 photovoltaic panels on the roof, covering an area of 3,000 sqm.

The pitch will be oriented on a north-south axis (with a slight tilt), with the main stand located on the west side. On the north and west sides, the stands will be extended by an adjacent building, which will house the necessary facilities, lodges and hospitality area, a large conference room, as well as a hotel with accommodation for 180 guests.

A one-story annex will also be added on the north side to house a commercial area, including a club store and restaurant.

What will be included in the surroundings of the new Oxford United stadium?

The surroundings of the stadium will be carefully arranged, with the creation of new paths, small architecture, water bodies and greenery. A rectangular gate will be built on the Oxford Road side, a modern interpretation of the former entrance gate to the Manor Ground (Oxford United's stadium between 1925 and 2001).

A plaza will be created in front of the north stand, which can be used for a variety of events, as a meeting place for the local community and fans on the occasion of matches.

New pedestrian and bicycle paths are to be created in the area, making the facility more accessible. Getting to the stadium will also be possible by public transportation.

What will make the new Oxford United stadium uniquely eco-friendly?

Special attention has been paid to sustainability aspects in the project. The stadium will introduce a number of solutions concerning recycling of materials and proper waste management, as well as optimizing water and energy consumption and temperature control.

Creating an "eco-stadium" is to be achieved through photovoltaic panels, rainwater tanks, heat pumps, the promotion of public transportation and the creation of facilities for cyclists, as well as new plantings to increase the biodiversity of the area. According to the planners, the facility is expected to be the first stadium in the UK powered solely by electricity.

Who will the new Oxford United stadium serve?

The stadium is expected to primarily serve Oxford United FC. The facility is also to be used by the club's women's team, and it will also be open to the local community and the organization of various events, both sporting and non-sporting.

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