While the image is nowhere near final, there's a solid vision of what should happen to AFAS Stadium when the new roof is installed. Without major intervention into existing stands capacity might grow by as many as 5,000 seats.
It wasn't until mid-December that the municipal authorities ruled AFAS Stadion safe until the end of the season. Summer of 2020 should see installation of the new roof, replacing the one that had collapsed last August.
AZ have presented a preliminary vision of how the stadium might look during their New Year's reception in mid-January. While it's not the final version to be sure, it gives an idea of several principles that will be used.
Zwarts en Jansma Architecten have been given the chance to revamp their own creation from 2006, however without its main architect, Moshé Zwarts, who passed away last year. Zwarts was also responsible for the renovation of stadiums like those of Sparta Rotterdam and FC Utrecht. His magnus opum was created together with Rein Jansma, which gave us the iconic look of the current Feyenoord Stadium.
New rows in front, new rows behind
The new roof will be cantilevered, just like the old one, but with a much greater structure – both in terms of volume and surface. The part closest to the pitch will be transparent as not to jeopardise the quality of the pitch.
Roof over three lower stands is anticipated to be of the same height as the roof over the main stand (the old one was undulating), which already creates room for expansion at the top by aligning the stands. At present stands behind goals and in the corners are between 1 and 7 rows lower than the centre part of the east stand, so at a minimum they would see 7 rows added, possibly more.
This marks phase 1, which would be carried out this year, between seasons. Though funding is secured for further changes, the club's general director Robert Eenhoorn stated that further changes would have to wait for the 2021 summer break. Whether the extra top rows will be added, has to be concluded with local government, since additional parking space would be required.
Plans to expand towards the pitch are more solid. Extension of the main stand in the south-west and the fanatics stand in the south-east (phase 2) will occur due to considerable space left between the field and the auditorium. This will likely include the introduction of safe standing on the fanatics stand or Ben Side, as communicated by CEO Eenhoorn back in 2018.
Phase 3 would see the same addition to stands east and south. At that point AFAS Stadium might have grown by 2,500 to 5,000 (in the most ambitious reconfiguration), however structural constraints aren't the only ones.
Please mind: this example of phasing is only our idea of what the club has indicated so far.
Parking a major issue
In Alkmaar parking space has to be a major consideration. At present the club has to provide 0.22 parking places per visitor, which translates to roughly 1 parking space per 4 people. So increase by 5,000 seats would have to come with 1,100 new parking bays.
However, the municipality of Alkmaar had already stipulated in 2007 that the ratio would be lowered to 0.18 per visitor for a much larger stadium (back then the case was a World-Cup-eligible venue of 40,000), which – if implemented in this case – would mean 200 cars less to accommodate with the maximum capacity increase. AZ, however, back then envisaged a much lower ratio with 0.11 parking spaces per visitor. Discussions between the club and local authorities are expected to become more frequent in the coming weeks.
© Tilemahos Efthimiadis (cc: by-sa)
What else might come?
While not detailed by AZ, there might be further changes coming to the stadium. Expansion by as many as 5,000 seats would mean the necessity to adjust public catering and sanitary facilities.
Also, additional rows in front of current stands would force reorganisation of crowd circulation routes. This is why the new roof and expansion might come with a brand new elevated public concourse around the three lower stands.
Finally, there's also room to grow in the west. Already before the summer accident AZ was thinking of adding 4 new private boxes. With the main stand's 'attic' largely vacant except for some technical installations, we could see expansion of premium facilities. After all, the main stand's roof has to be changed as well and it's unlikely to be at the same height as the remaining three, as indicated in the rendering.
Marc, StadiumDB Contributor