It became evident to Ian Ritchie in late 2007 that any new stadium would need to be economic to build and operate. We could see that the current stadium design was no longer viable at the costs being reported of £400 million plus, and, later in 2009 there had still been no progress. A stadium was required with at least a 60,000 capacity, with a unique character built around the world-renowned Kop, and we set out to design one for £250 million. If we could, it could completely change the club’s situation. We felt compelled to do it. We have the skills, motivation and the willpower, and our office has been supported by professional and construction colleagues in Germany with vast experience in stadium design and their construction.
The role of the club in helping to market the city’s identity is immense, and the project is seen as vital to the regeneration of this part of Liverpool 4. A guaranteed maximum price of £250 million including all design fees was signed in March 2010 with the contractor and has been presented to the directors of Liverpool FC, Liverpool City Council , Share Liverpool and to CABE who wrote:
“The aspiration to achieve a stadium design that is not only particular to its site but also unique to its club is commonly held but seldom realised. We think this proposal for Liverpool Football Club holds the prospect of achieving both, to become an extraordinary new landmark for Liverpool that will be embraced by the community. We applaud the design team’s efforts to create an efficient and economic design that puts the experience of the supporter first. We are happy with the decision to locate the new stadium at the southern end of Stanley Park.” CABE letter 22 09 2010.
The concept of the stadium is a theatre focussed around a new Kop as the stage set and choir, with the surrounding stands as the ‘auditorium’ and open to the park. It should help embed the stadium in its context and achieve a strong bond with its end user. The underside of the stands can be used for more than 300 days a year for community activities including 5-a-side pitches.
The change in club ownership in October 2010 will, hopefully, see the aspirations of the club and the desire of Liverpool City Council to succeed in the regeneration of the club and of Liverpool 4.