England: What is the future for Stamford Bridge?
source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola
Chelsea FC has been under new ownership since May 2022. Roman Abramovich decided to sell the club, after the West sanctioned him due to the war in Ukraine. 'The Blues' have been taken over by a consortium led by Todd Boehly. The new owners have announced an improvement of the overall look of the club's venue.
Chelsea, thanks to the investment of Roman Abramovich, has become a top Premier League club. During the Russian oligarch's 19-year reign, the Londoners have enjoyed a string of successes both in England and in the European competitions, making them a global brand comparable to other club giants of the Old Continent. However, the Blues' further expansion over the years has been hindered by their stadium.
Stamford Bridge is undoubtedly an iconic venue and hugely significant to the history of English football. Unfortunately, its capacity of just over 40,000 seats is far too small for an ambitious club such as CFC. Suffice to say, fans tightly fill the Fulham-located arena at every game, and tickets are extremely difficult to secure.
Abramovich announced from the start of his reign in West London that a bigger stadium was essential to the club's development. The plot of land on which Stamford Bridge stands hinders the expansion of this facility. The arena is squeezed between two railway lines and a main road, and the area itself has dense housing. Nevertheless, the club's owners declared that they wanted to remain in the historic location.
However, new reports continued to emerge about Chelsea moving to a less problematic location. Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Battersea Power Station or Chelsea Barracks were mentioned among potential destinations. Nothing came of these plans and in 2014 the club's managers decided that Stamford Bridge would be redeveloped. Herzog & de Meuron were commissioned to prepare the design.
© Brent Flanders (cc: by-nc-nd)
The proposed concept for the redevelopment involved increasing the capacity of the venue to 60,000 seats. Architecturally, the shape of the stadium was to be a homage to the building of London, the sports, the religious and the residential one. The attention was particularly drawn to the imposing brick colonnade that formed the facade of the venue. Unfortunately, in 2018, the club announced that the investment, estimated to cost ₤2 billion, was being put on hold indefinitely due to unfavourable business circumstances.
Many things have changed since then, including the owner. Where does the stadium issue stand right now? Todd Boehly has announced the allocation of funds to upgrade Stamford Bridge, which primarily involves improving the overall aesthetics of the facility. NewsTimesuk.com reports that the revamps include the renovation of the West Stand and the creation of new murals around the arena.
The aim of the club's new management is to create a greater sense of belonging for supporters and emphasise the team's identity. There are also plans for a larger 'The Blues' crest on the West Stand and the installation of an illuminated 'Chelsea FC' sign. A new mural will appear on the south side, incorporating the words of fan chants. New artwork is to decorate the East and West Stands as well. Stamford Bridge is also to feature banners of the trophies the club has won in its history, a new LED screen and the front of the club shop.
Boehly has entrusted architect Janet Marie Smith, who was also responsible for the renovation of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, to oversee the realisation of the upgrade. The LA Dodgers baseball team, which is also owned by the American entrepreneur, plays there on a daily basis. At this stage, there are no plans to increase the capacity of the London venue.