The proposed new Everton stadium, on the site of the Bramley-Moore dock near Liverpool city centre, is exactly what the city’s first professional club needs. Nonetheless, Evertonians will leave Goodison Park with a heavy heart, finally leaving a famous stadium with what will be nearly 130 years of history behind it.
There is a charm and an aura to Goodison Park which will be almost impossible to replace when it comes to a new stadium. Long gone will be the girders that line three sides of the ground, and long gone will be the ‘post box’ view that spectators get from the back of the Gwladys Steet and Bullens Road stands.
A for Atmosphere.... but a surprisingly large percentage of visiting fans (quite literally) have a very poor view of Goodison Park.
Those are features that Evertonians will be happy to see the back of, even if they did add a quirk to the ground. However, Evertonians do not simply want anything like Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, or Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium – which serve as just two examples of stadiums that many believe have not matched the atmospheres of their old predecessors.
New features promised by Meis
Everton are a club on the up financially and commercially, even if results on the pitch in the early part of 2018/19 have reflected little improvement.
The atmosphere in the ground has thus suffered, along with Everton's outright Premier League betting odds, which ran into the hundreds even before the season began. Poor results precipitate a toxic atmosphere amongst a fanbase which expects 100% sweat and toil from its heroes, and it is at times like those when the faults of the ground become more exaggerated.
Ultimately this begs the biggest and most long-term question of all – exactly what features should be taken to Everton’s new ground? The one that is called on most often is the proximity between fans and players. When the ground is at its ferocious best, it can feel like a bear pit, as the fans are close to the ground and able to produce an intense atmosphere.
This is something that the architect for the project, Dan Meis, has been quick to promise. Meis knows that a soulless ‘bowl’, which has been the mark of many new stadiums in England over the last few years, is not the way forward. Having four distinct sides is also important in creating that closeness to the pitch.
Clearly, Meis and the club have listened to the fans, and know that they want this to be a new stadium where the great atmosphere isn’t lost.
In September 2018, Everton fan channel ToffeeTV provided an update of where the club currently stands in its projected stadium move.
Another element that is popular among the fans is the cross-bracing that is seen throughout the stands at Goodison which was a hallmark left by the architect Archibald Leitch. Many neutrals would say that Goodison Park was his greatest achievement, given how ground-breaking the stadium was at the time, most notably being the first ever stadium to have two tiers on each side of the ground.
The other quirks that characterise Goodison Park are the wooden seats, tight concourses and the church in the corner. While an endearing nod to the past, tight concourses such as those seen at the 40,000 capacity Goodison are not an option with an increased capacity.
Wooden seats can still be a novelty, and add to a more ‘traditional’ matchday experience, but it is common sense just to restrict them to – perhaps – the front row of the bottom tier around the ground.
Leaving Goodison Park is going to be a painful experience for many Everton fans, but one that is entirely necessary. Tears will be shed on the big day, as flashbacks to many a triumphant day – such as Everton’s great defeat of Bayern Munich in the 1985 Cup Winners’ Cup – enter the minds of all present.