All the talk of late, surrounding new grounds being built in and around Merseyside has centred on Everton’s new stadium currently under construction at Bramley-Moore Dock. There is a potential new kid on the block, however, in the shape of the area’s third and all too often forgotten football side, Tranmere Rovers.
It is still in the early stages, but Wirral Council have revealed discussions are in place to build a brand new, 15,000 all-seater stadium. The plans are wide-ranging and provide an insight into what is involved when planning a new ground in today’s world, something that involves many more considerations than when the stadiums they are replacing were built.
A perfect example of this is the need for – or certainly the advantage of having – broadband access in the stadium, and the adaption of new technologies which will allow the capacity to give simultaneous online access to 15 000 people, which helps to facilitate communication and entertainment at half-time. As well as the official uses, this is also great news for fans trying to get online to check the other scores, have some fun with online games like chess or poker and even FaceTime their friends and family before and after the match or at half-time.
Having an infrastructure in place for such technology is also crucial for another aspect of this proposed project, and so many other new similar ventures. A football ground, though a vital part of the community is only something that creates revenue every other Saturday and the occasional midweek evening, and lies dormant for the entire summer period. For such a large space, that is a missed opportunity that more and more developers are unwilling to see go. That is why the more uses the ground or its surrounding development can cater for, the sounder a prospect it is.
The proposed new Tranmere Rovers stadium would be the driving force behind the development and indeed redevelopment of the area and will be part of a Sports City. As well as the football ground, which itself would be home to an in-house hotel complete with a conference and event centre, the complex would feature a sports science facility, a digital golf driving range and a host of food and retail outlets. All of this means – if it does go ahead – that the area will see an influx of revenue, jobs, services and visitors seven days a week, every week of the year.
Central to the plans however is the football ground, and the council’s bid to make Tranmere Rovers an established Championship club. Built into the proposal is the ability to increase the size of the stadium by a further 10,000 seats, pushing the capacity to 25,000 if the need should arise at a time in the future.
Where will this Sports City and New Stadium be Located?
Crucially, the development is proposed to take place in Birkenhead on the site of the former Bidston Dock. The land is owned by Peel Land and Development, who have given the initial green light to the project on the understanding they will act solely as land owners, not developers. The £200 million project will be joint funded by Wirral Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
What Will Become of the Current Ground?
Prenton Park, which opened in 1912, will be demolished and the ground used for residential development. Only a few months ago, the go-ahead was given for a 12,000-square-foot fan park complete with a microbrewery to be built alongside the ground.
If the project is given the green light, which is thought likely, it will be more good news for the area, and another sign that the northwest is very much alive, kicking and flourishing when it comes to football. Liverpool may not be looking to leave Anfield any time soon, but they themselves are in the process of developing the stadium, increasing its capacity to 61,015 which would make it the fourth largest in the EPL.