We’ll start with this month’s most asked question. How long does it take to build a new stand?
The Verlin Stand was built in four months, Wembley took three years the Emirates took over two years, Hibernian's new stand went up in 4 months similar to the Verlin Stand. Then there’s the comparisons to FC United’s new stadium but that is a totally different project with 674 seats and some ancillary facilities and the rest being standing.
At the end of the day, it’s all about what’s included. I’m sure that if we were building something akin to the Verlin Stand, we would have it up in around four months. But trying to compare the new North Stand to the Verlin Stand is like comparing apples with oranges.
The Verlin Stand is quite simply a spectator facility; single story and a straightforward build. The new North Stand has some 47,000 square feet of additional accommodation attached to the rear and you can not put the two up separately without substantially adding to costs.
So how can you compare the North Stand with something else? Oldham Job Centre on Union Street is a building that is similar in nature to the back part of the North Stand. We built the job centre in the early 1990’s. The building was 25,000 square feet with 8 parking spaces. We completed that project in 13 months. The North Stand as I have said is around 47,000 square feet with parking for around 300 vehicles, yet it will be built in roughly similar time scales. Once the groundworks are complete, progress seems to happen quickly and the new stand is no different.
The works for the new stand had to be split into two parts. The reason for this is that the old Lookers Stand and the ZenOffice stand had overlapping facilities in terms of locations of turnstiles, exit gates and the Corner Flag suite. It was important that the match day operations were not hindered and so an initial set of works were carried out to make sure that everything was in place for the new season. Those works included: removing the Corner Flag suite, demolishing the old turnstiles to the ZenOffice stand and building new turnstiles with a temporary access, relocating the match control room and all the necessary voice, data and cctv, etc. The remaining walls and terraces of the old Lookers Stand needed to be demolished and drainage diverted. There was also some ground stability issues that needed resolving before any works could start.
As you read this blog, the first part of the frame of the North Stand is now up and you will have been able to appreciate how imposing it is going to be. It certainly raised some comments at Saturday’s game against Brentford. From front to back, it is about 30 metres, twice as deep as the main stand. You will also be able to gauge the extent of the additional facilities at the rear, which will include the gym, banqueting and conferencing etc. Between now and the Coventry game, there will be substantial progress if all goes to plan and there will be 5 or 6 bays up.