Erik's update on new stadium
In his programme notes for the Luton Town game, Chief Executive Erik Samuelson reported on how the club is now looking at the cost implications for the detailed design of a new stadium.
The full article, in which Erik also offers congratulations to those involved in last Tuesday’s FA Youth Cup game versus Chelsea, is reproduced below.
While we are making progress on developing the Section 106 agreement to underpin the planning decision, we’ve also been looking again, and again, at the stadium design. So I thought I’d bring you up to date on that.
A key issue is cost – or, to be more precise, affordability. We are constrained in what we can develop by a spending limit which is determined by the contributions we will get from Galliard Homes, plus the proceeds of the sale of Kingsmeadow to Chelsea, plus what we feel we can reasonably afford to borrow without overreaching ourselves financially.
Until we go to tender we won’t know the actual cost of what we’d like to build, so we are using estimates developed by our consultants Mott MacDonald, who give us regular updates on the projected cost based on their knowledge of the industry and their close monitoring of key indices. In passing, I should add that, with the rate at which costs in the construction industry are currently rising, every delay in going to tender is almost certainly adding to our costs at a rate much higher than general inflation.
So we know what we can spend, and we are matching that, with some contingency up our sleeves, with the estimated stadium cost. This has meant we’ve had to make some changes to the design to keep within our cost constraints. For example, while the capacity of the final stadium remains at about 20,000, the starting capacity has come down and is now likely to be below 10,000. On balance we don’t think this is a bad thing, but we have instructed our architects to demonstrate how we could quickly increase the capacity at a manageable cost, should the revised lower capacity prove to be insufficient.
Meanwhile, the design continues to be refined. We’ve been looking at a range of issues, including the amount of accommodation for stadium-based staff, the size of the club shop, the size and scale of the hospitality area that can be used for events on non- matchdays, where a screen/scoreboard would go, and where the players’ changing rooms and medical facilities are in relation to the players’ tunnel.
Every tweak to the design has potential effects elsewhere in the stadium. For example, changes to the hospitality area have substantial knock- on effects for the stadium design, and that can in turn have consequences for the initial capacity. Getting down to this level of detail has certainly had the effect on me of making it all so much more real and close.
All of this work rests on the assumption that the Section 106 agreement will be completed in sufficient detail for it to be submitted to the GLA for their consideration in the near future. That is the next step in the process, and one we are working hard on at the moment.
I can’t end this page without referring to the performance of the U-18 team on Tuesday night. I’m sure that every Dons fan in the stadium felt that our young players had done us proud, and that the final scoreline was not a fair reflection of the balance of the game. So well done to each and every one of them, and also to their management and coaching team.
An occasion like Tuesday night is about the wider club as well as the football itself. It was fantastic to see such a large crowd (3,455 if you’ve not seen the attendance figures) at the game. But it was also very satisfying the next day to receive messages of appreciation from Chelsea fans about the atmosphere, the friendliness they experienced and the general way the match was run. So in addition to the many plaudits the team deserve, I will add my own appreciation of the backroom team who made the evening run so smoothly.