Manchester: Old Trafford will be demolished?!
source: StadiumDB.com; author: Maciek Ściłba
For the past two decades, the discussion whether and how to expand the popular "The Theatre of Dreams" has returned like a boomerang. The topic has become a soap opera, as none of the proposed options for expanding the facility have been decided upon.
What is the problem with expanding Old Trafford?
Since 2009, Old Trafford's official capacity is 74,140, making the stadium the largest arena in the Premier League. This number of seats was achieved thanks to investments made between 1995 and 2006. First, the main stand was enlarged before Euro 1996. A few years later, it was decided to add extra rows over the western and eastern sections , as well as creating completely new corners between them and the north stand. Only the two-tier south stand remained in its current form.
At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, it became apparent that a further extension was needed to the venue that is the everyday home of Manchester United. The club, led at the time by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, regularly won successive Premier League titles and also checked in at the decisive stages of the Champions League. Such results attracted fans regularly filling the arena almost to the last seat. This led media outlets such as ESPN and the Daily Mail to speculate between 2015 and 2017 about expanding the south sections with an additional row of stands with a capacity of 7,500 seats and expanding the adjacent corner stands with a further 4,500 seats. Old Trafford is then expected to become the second largest stadium in the UK just after Wembley with a capacity of between 88,000 and 90,000.
What is the future of Old Trafford?
In the following seasons, despite the lack of significant success in the Premier League and Champions League, fans continued to visit "The Theatre of Dreams" in large numbers and the club recorded consecutive record years in terms of profits. The situation was only changed by the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdowns and closed arenas in 2020-2021 are the most common cause of delays for many projects. Also the expansion of Old Trafford went down the drain. Only the stabilization of the outbreak in recent months has brought the subject of expanding Manchester United's home back to the fore.
In April 2022, the club's governing body announced its desire to renovate the legendary venue. "The Red Devils" bosses commissioned the respected Legends International consultancy and the well-known design studio Populous to draw up a feasibility study for the investment. Several preliminary options prepared for "The Theatre of Dreams" were presented a few weeks ago. The most radical of these involves... the construction of an entirely new stadium. This would be built on land owned by the club close to the existing facility. The option marking the death of Old Trafford is more realistic than everyone might think.
It was estimated that the cost of a new arena would be around £2 billion. If it was decided to expand the existing stadium, and upgrade standards to the current trends, it has been calculated that the investment could cost close to £1 billion. The new-build option would also result in Manchester United being able to use Old Trafford unhindered until the investment is completed. The final option could also be influenced by complaints and protests from residents in the area surrounding "The Theatre of Dreams", who complain about the noise, dirt and inappropriate behavior of fans that accompany match days. It is also worth mentioning that the final decision on the matter will be taken by United's new owners, as the club has been up for sale for some time.
Check out how Old Trafford stacks up against other Premier League stadiums: