Italo Svevo, an Italian author, once wrote a first-person autobiography of a fictional character called Zeno, entitled The Conscience of Zeno. It told of a man who wrote down his thoughts about his life, marriage, business and social aspects, as a way of psychoanalysis. I intend to do a similar thing regarding the stadium debate, over a particular idea that has been brewing in my head for sometime. I hope, however, this does not descend into one of those endless debates as they generate very little in terms of constructive criticism, nor does it sway many people as most no longer sit on the fence but stand on one side if it.
Last spring, I was offered a job in Rotterdam, which I took at the start of July last summer. I was very excited about moving to the place, where, as an Evertonian, arguably the pinnacle of Everton?s history was achieved ? victory in De Kuip against a Rapid Vienna side whose captain on the night proclaimed us as ?possibly the greatest side in Europe?.
I decided against following Feyenoord as they were the bigger of the two sides from the city, and instead have followed their main city rivals, Sparta Rotterdam, for the whole of this season. However, on two separate occasions, I have visited the new Kuip stadium, including a Uefa Cup tie, and this is the reasoning behind the article.
I?ll cut to the main point: The stadium smacked of what Kirkby has been shown to be ? a 50,000-seater stadium plonked next to a retail park. Now, I could be mistaken, and the retail park may well have swelled around the stadium in years gone by. But, the match-day going experience is probably going to be very similar to that of Kirkby.
And in many ways, it is. For those not familiar with the geography of Rotterdam, the Kuip is situated roughly 7 km from the city centre. Not very far, granted, 7 km from Lime Street gets you to the start of the East Lancs Road by Walton Hall Avenue (check Google Earth if you don?t believe me). However, the whole stadium feels out-of-town, compared with the Kasteel stadium of Sparta, which is no closer, but in a built-up residential area. I got no sense of feeling that Feyenoord is in Rotterdam at all.
Inside the ground, the atmosphere is soulless, even with the roof, which keeps the noise in to some degree. I?ve been told that when Feyenoord play Ajax the noise is incredible with 50,000 rambunctious Rotterdammers baying for blood. However, I was there for the Rotterdam derby, and the Feyenoord fans, despite winning, were not making any sort of sound whatsoever for the first hour. The stadium felt empty despite being at least 90% full. I thought to myself, if this is what Kirkby is going to be like, then goodnight.
The stadium?s design is bland, a big concrete bowl with no real defining features. It reminds me of, well, nothing. Arsenal?s stadium, while another bowl, at least has the undulating roof. Wembley has it?s arch, the Millenium Stadium has the retractable roof. De Kuip the second biggest sports arena in the Netherlands behind the Amsterdam ArenA, which by contrast, is a fantastic-looking design.
This is where the similarities with Kirkby end, though. The city council put on special trams on matchdays to both stadia from the central station. Although a bit of a crush, it at least gets you there relatively quickly. Extra trains are provided by the national rail service, NS from the central station to Rotterdam Zuid. Parking looked relatively easy, as you could park outside the ground, with plenty of spare spaces.
But the one key difference, in my view, is that the Kuip is viewed as Feyenoord?s spiritual home. They celebrated their centenary last summer, inviting Spurs, Celtic and Borussia Dortmund. Everyone in Holland recognises De Kuip as the home of Feyenoord, in the same way that Phillips Stadion is the home of PSV and that Het Kasteel is the home of Sparta (who are the oldest professional football club in Holland).
I promised not to digress into the stadium debate on this, but I started off a yay-sayer and have gradually turned into a nay-sayer. I think we have to move from Goodison but Kirkby is not the answer. For those that still are behind the move, I bid you to come to the site of our greatest night and take a good look. Kirkby is De Kuip: The Sequel. Except rather than being the original blockbuster, this is a straight-to-DVD.
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1 Posted 17/04/2009 at 03:38:50
The other key thing to note though, is the stadium is directly served by rail - bi-directional, and to be honest, getting there (and getting out) was a breeze.
I honestly think using a Dutch example is slightly misleading, as, in spite of the best efforts of Neil Scales and Mark Dowd, public transport in Liverpool, and indeed the rest of the UK, is way behind that of many of its European counterparts.
But did you notice thousands of people cycling though??
2 Posted 17/04/2009 at 09:38:16
As a blue you should surely have gone for the biggest.
3 Posted 17/04/2009 at 10:52:49
Kirkby has away fans behind one goal, with the other End more interested in having corporate boxes and corporate fans on the last couple of rows.
Anyone who does like to be one of the singers at the match, ask yourself where are we going to go? There is nowhere for us. We have not been taken into consideration yet again.
4 Posted 17/04/2009 at 10:41:40
Secondly, De Kuip was built in 1937. It was built outside the city, and in the last 70 or so years the city has sprawled around it. Its defining feature is its modern steel design and its suspended second tier, in a time every other stadium used wood, bricks and pillars. This unique look gave the stadium its nickname. The Tub.
The Rotterdam rivalry is mostly one-way, since Feyenoord has been infinitely more successful in living memory.
The Amsterdam Arena is widely known as a failure of a stadium. Since it was the first of a new generation of stadiums, it has all the faults one would expect of a prototype. Grass won't grow, sound echoes, the moat is excessively big and the roof takes ages to open or close. It did pay for itself in 9 years or so, though. Nobody is the Netherlands thinks it's superior to De Kuip.
5 Posted 17/04/2009 at 13:04:48
Where to start... The Amsterdam ArenA - which you call "a fantastisc looking design". Even 90% of the Ajax-fans agree that the ArenA is a soulless ground and that moving to it was one of the dumbest moves Ajax ever made.
De Kuip is over 70 years old as someone else pointed out. And you are calling it a new stadium! Ridiculous. As Jan Doedel said, in the Netherlands, literally no-one thinks the ArenA is a better footballing ground than De Kuip.
And if you are using Feyenoord as an example, you might add that:
- They are the club of South-Rotterdam, not Central-Rotterdam. They are in their natural habitat. They didn?t move in that direction a few years back, do you know what the name is of the part of the city where de Kuip is? "Feijenoord". It had that name before the club existed, the club is named after the area. The comparison with Everton moving out of town is flawed as Feyenoord never really moved (well, they played on other grounds but always near their current location).- They have plans to build a brand new stadium, next to de Kuip. A capacity of 80,000 with expansion options to over 100,000 is being looked into. De Kuip is an old stadium that lacks a lot of modern day stadium facilities and Feyenoord are hoping to enter the future with the new stadium.
So they didn?t move to a new out-of-town stadium at all. Au contraire.
6 Posted 17/04/2009 at 14:00:19
7 Posted 17/04/2009 at 15:36:28
8 Posted 17/04/2009 at 18:04:09
I expressed my opinion on the stadium based on my experiences going there, and my opinion is that it is an utter dive. Please don?t patronise me by saying Feyenoord is the Europeanised name for Feijenoord, the district in south Rotterdam. As I explained at the start of the piece, I moved here last summer. I therefore might have gleaned that nugget of information already.
The other thing to add about De Kuip is that the stadium has been updated several times. You are quite right ? it does feel out-of-date because it?s an old stadium but it?s had plenty of different looks over the years. The present inception just felt empty, even for an important match such as, as the Feyenoorders call it, "De enige echte Derby" (The only real Derby).
Also, I would like to add that just because I claimed the ArenA is a fantastic-looking design, does not necessarily mean it?s a class stadium. Wembley looks fantastic with the huge arch over it, but I think the designers could have done more for the nation?s flagship stadium, most certainly when it comes to atmosphere.
Secondly, to Jan, I assume you are aware that Excelsior have so little presence in the city that they are considering relocating to Gouda, 30 km away?
I have been following Sparta all season (I have a season ticket at home ? ?235, oh for a similar priced season ticket in GP) and have read a lot on the background of them ? in many ways, they are similar to Everton in terms of history (6 league titles, albeit the last one 50 years ago, number of KNVB cups ? numerous firsts, including first Dutch side to win a European Cup match).
Finally, I am aware that De Kuip was built and the city grew around it ? again, this was touched upon in the original article.
I?m not trying to shout you down, guys, honestly. I know you?re both native Dutch guys but I found it quite insulting that you started on the counter-arguments without, it seems, having read the article properly.
9 Posted 17/04/2009 at 18:18:45
I didn?t notice the thousands of people cycling, funnily enough. I do, however, cycle to Sparta?s home games myself because it?s cheaper than by public transport. The one thing I would point out, which is highlighted by Matt?s point, is that getting in and out of games a) at Sparta and b) at Feyenoord is a lot easier because the council put aside extra funds to serve the fans (highlighted in the article). This is where Kirkby differentiates.
I chose to support Sparta on the basis that I did not want to follow the crows. I seldom go with the grain in life, in general. I therefore decided very early on not to go and support Feyenoord because I quite rightly assumed that that?s who everyone would be following.
And as pointed out in my post above, Sparta does have a feel of Everton about it (rich history, but the team have now fallen on leaner times). I could bore you with the history lesson but this is an Everton forum and I?m trying to keep this article Everton-related.
10 Posted 17/04/2009 at 19:13:44
11 Posted 17/04/2009 at 19:36:21
Answer? Nowhere, lower tier has executive boxes at the back with executive seating on the last couple of rows. Upper tier is a safety risk for them and is also very hard to obtain the standing there.
12 Posted 18/04/2009 at 04:43:58
I live much further away in Australia but could at least draw that from the article. This wasn?t a fact-finding mission but a supporter presenting his opinion and trying to give some background details. As an immigrant of some 8 years standing, I would tell you all about the area where I live East of Melbourne but I?m terrified some Aussie may chew me to pieces over any geographical or historical errors.
Cycling to the match does sound fantastic but on my one trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I did wonder how people ever identified their own bike when they returned to the hundreds stacked up together. Perhaps you guys could enlighten me. Do you just take the nearest one and cycle home?!
13 Posted 18/04/2009 at 11:26:17
I have experience of this as since mid-December I’ve cycled the 4km or so from my flat to Sparta’s ground. There are no proper bike racks, in reality, so you usually chain it up to somewhere easy to find. I normally chain it to a lampost or something simple like that, just outside the ground.
I can understand your point from when you park it at a railway station - there are hundreds of the damn things and finding yours takes a lot of memory of where you put it in the first place - that’s of course, if it’s still there. I have had problems with this before, not remembering where I parked.
14 Posted 18/04/2009 at 14:08:16
NB: My opinion, that Kirkby will be a fucking desperate horrible disaster, was reached by what I DO know.
15 Posted 18/04/2009 at 14:15:25
The reality is that, despite the different slant you put on it, it?s back to the same old arguments. I will explain my position, which is not a million miles from yours, and it might reveal a conundrum that loads of Evertonians feel.
I have never been "in favour" of Kirkby. I am most certainly in favour of leaving Goodison to a more suitable arena for this day and age. I lament the Kings Dock failure, it would have been brilliant, but it wasn?t to be, we could argue why but it?s irrelevant now.
I also understand the club?s financial position. EFC is considered by most frugal within the game and by almost all (that I have read) informed commentators... There are clearly issues (e.g. marketing & merchandising) but we plod on. But we have no financial capacity to borrow/fund a new stadium of our own without risking the club?s existence. teh figures don?t stack up.
This has led the club to it?s position of a faciities-led initiative. Doesn?t matter whether you or I like or loathe the idea. It is simply a commercial reality if EFC want to "push on". It would seem that Tesco is the only party with a viable proposition on the table. I don?t believe for one second that Bill Kenwright would rather be in Kirkby than the city centre.
I think almost every Evertonian who voted for Kirkby doesn?t really want to be there. I certainly don?t. But if that really is the only funded, costed & deliverable solution on the table then what is the club to do? I would go there, possibly with a heavy heart, but I would go.
But as an idealist I would rather go to a 75,000 seater Merseyside arena that would be second only to Wembley in prestige. As a joint arena it would automaticaly attract far more funding from the EC and regional development agencies. And I dare say that, as a magnificent joint arena, it would attract marketing, sponsorship and possible debentures that would dwarf anything that either club could raise individually.
I don?t believe anyone on TW needs a lesson in how soulless out of town arenas can be (even if the example of Feyenoord is a little misleading). Seems to me the whole issue comes down to either accepting (however reluctantly) that the club sees this as the only viable solution given all the circumstances, or staying in denial and beieving that there are plenty of other options or, misguidedly in my view, even believing that The Old Lady itself can be transformed.
It?s no fun being a realist, but it does tend to avoid disappointment.
16 Posted 18/04/2009 at 15:07:12
17 Posted 19/04/2009 at 00:31:49
In that you're right, it is the only option being presented to us. But that doesn?t mean we should accept it nor accept that it's the best option.
Realist is fine, but not to question is unforgivable.
If we read your comments then we should just accept Kirkby and roll over without comment. The "no-one wants to go" comment smacks of Everton supporters not caring or not having any choice. Which one is it, guys?
18 Posted 19/04/2009 at 01:48:06
19 Posted 19/04/2009 at 04:20:07
The day the Tesco-Kirkby deal was announced, the "Exclusivity Agreement" was put in place. It was obvious then what that meant. It was a planned strategy to prevent there being any other viable option: were such a thing to arise, it would not be given the oxygen to survive. And so it has proved.
It sucked then... and it still sucks. Although from their perspective, it’s completely understandable. The imperatives of big business running roughshod over the delicate emotions of the fanbase... But TESCO and EFC were in a position to write their own rules for the game, and that’s just what they have done. They claim they looked at all the options before going with Kirkby, and they may or may not have done: it became immaterial. They claim they are doing the best for the club, the only option on the table ? which is somewhat self-serving.
Dennis: "If the current board are unable to run the club properly, perhaps it?s time they looked for replacements to hand control to." The current Board are not there because they have the knowledge and skills to "run the club properly", as you put it. They are there because they had (or could borrow) the money to buy the shares that gave them the right to serve on the Board. The idea that they should somehow be replaced is simply laughable.
In terms of their remit, which is to do the best for the shareholders in the club (Note: not "the best for the club", necessarily), I can fully understand that DK will do exactly that. It gets Neil all riled up to say so, but getting a good return on investment is what this is all about.
20 Posted 19/04/2009 at 07:21:16
However, I think what you are inferring is that he board, having picked the Tesco option and stifled any other option through the exclusivity clause, has NO intention of allowing any other suggestion of an alternative from being proposed. But, it does not mean that the Board has no responsibility for adequately looking after STAKEHOLDERS' interests. This is why I believe that the Board, in looking after shareholders interests (self), it is to the overall detriment to the club, its future and its supporters.
As you indicate, the intrests of the shareholders may not be in the best interest of the club. This has long been my view and has been borne out in the treatment of small shareholders, supporters alike.
Kirkby made little sense a year ago, its value was debateable then, in the present economic climate with even less revenue potential, the likelihood of even less of a cross subsidy, who can afford it? Still the Deal of the Century? It never was and has been laid bare for its over hyped tissue of selective truths...
21 Posted 19/04/2009 at 11:19:44
For the Realist view, I cannot do better than quote Alan above: "... staying in denial and believing that there are plenty of other options". That’s the way it looks to us.
The Romantic view seems to be that, because Kirkby isn’t a great option, there MUST be other ones. But why must there? Given that we are tremendously constrained financially, maybe there just aren’t better options? Sometimes life just isn’t the way you’d like it to be. Being poor reduces your options.
What of course the Realist completely accepts is that, if a rich new owner were to come along, we would almost certainly have more options then (although the new owner may also say that Kirkby looks just fine to them). And indeed it may be worth waiting around and hoping for the best. But that is completely different from believing falsely that there are other better options right now which we could afford. To us Realists, that is just being in denial.
And Michael, your point about return on investment still makes little sense. If there are all these really great non-Kirkby options out there, why wouldn’t Kenwright make even more money by pursuing them? Wouldn’t someone pay even more for the club if we had a wonderful new home in the city?
Well, anyway perhaps this is one day to be a Romantic, at least about footballing matters! COYB!
22 Posted 19/04/2009 at 13:12:27
The Reality is that those at Everton who were behind the deal called it the Deal of the Century because for them, as major shareholders in the club, that is exactly what it was going to be.
You ask yet again "If there are all these really great non-Kirkby options out there, why wouldn?t Kenwright make even more money by pursuing them?" ? Neil, there are no other options because that was part of this deal ? the Exclusivity Agreement was put in place to make sure there were no other options.
Perhaps if you were less Romantic about the prime intentions of Kenwright and the other major shareholders, you could recognise the Reality that they were going to make out like bandits from this Deal of the Century.
Whether they still will remains to be seen...
23 Posted 19/04/2009 at 14:32:39
There are no other options for a very very simple and very very obvious reason: BECAUSE WE CANNOT AFFORD THEM. Michael, seriously now, do you believe that there are other options in the city as cheap for us as Kirkby? Really??
Until you accept that we are a relatively poor club and THAT is the problem, you will for ever be reaching after your complicated fantasy conspiracy theories. I have sympathy for you. You are like a person who believes we can afford a BMW, so has to come up with ever more bizarre explanations as to why we have decided to buy a Mini. I tell you Michael, once you just accept that we are poor, it really makes what is going on a lot simpler to understand!
Anyway Michael - football match for us to both to watch now!
24 Posted 19/04/2009 at 14:49:42
The explanation you accept for that is because we are poor, we don’t have a pot to piss in. So extend that just a little... If you are poor and you can’t afford to do the huge amount of work necessary to explore and develop viable options, and the only partner you have offers a very sweet Deal of Century... that will substantially increase the value of your shareholding (along with a little clause or three containing a nice Exclusivity Agreement that prevents you from looking at any other options)... what else are you going to do?
It’s a no-brainer, Neil. The point being, it’s for the good of the current shareholders ? not necessarily for the good of the club and its fans. I know it’s hard for you to accept that Reality ? it goes against this Romantic notion of yours that Bill Kenwright cares only about "the best for Everton Football Club" and is somehow not looking at the best for the few million quid he has invested.
ps: I’m waiting for someone to post a decent mailbag item for the big day... it looks a bit silly when I do it. Be a good bloke and give that a go will ya!
25 Posted 19/04/2009 at 15:16:25
Let me try for you on that other topic...!
26 Posted 20/04/2009 at 00:17:57
Thus he may be able to buy some decent players next summer. He could do a lot with £50M, I reckon.
27 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:21:06
Secondly are people in Kirkby not scousers? Is finch farm in Liverpool? You talk of soulless stadiums, I dont think you will find one Evertonian who believes there isn't an atmosphere at Wembley. History is there to be written.
28 Posted 20/04/2009 at 10:42:46
If you take an average match you will find that there will be a set of fans who wish to sing frequently, a set of fans who only like to sing when everyone else does, and fans who aren’t interested in singing.
The fans who like to sing frequently will need to stand, they will also need to be under a very good roof to spread the songs to the fans who only like to sing when everyone else does. Scattered around are fans who aren’t interested in singing so you need acoustics to help carry the songs.
Afterall, I would say that the majority only like to sing when everyone else does, so how are they going to join in with a song that either they can’t hear, or a song if there isn’t one being sung?
You need then to consider why songs aren’t being either started off or heard.
Again design comes into this, as mentioned previously are the main frequent singers congregate? Are they directly under the roof, or they stood? So does the stadium cater for their needs? Kirkby doesn’t.
You need a stadium that is designed to consider this, and Kirkby hasn’t.
Don’t forget a match like yesterday, every single Evertonian was up for it it was a huge matchan exciting dayyou could get an atmosphere anywhere on a day like that, but how many absolutely huge games of that magnitude will you get at home 1 or 2 a year? You need a stadium that can generate an atmosphere for all games. Not just the top notch ones.
29 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:32:16
I still think it?s somewhat naive rather than realistic to believe the "no other option" line, if that?s really the case it makes the exclusivity agreement somewhat redundant. It also begs the question, as mentioned, what if Kirkby doesn?t come to fruition? Do these "realists" believe the club will just stay at Goodison as it is now, with no possible redevelopment of Goodison Park, no exploring other alternative stadium proposals? Is it realistic to believe the Kirkby proposal is our one & only opportunity & if it doesn?t come off there is absolutely no alternative?
Furthermore, Neil claims the poverty-stricken state of the club makes this deal so attractive, but as the costs seem to steadily rise & the cross-subsidy predicted from the retail units diminishes, it looks increasingly likely that the only benefit may be the use of tesco?s building contractor at "mate?s rates" & maybe enough cross-subsidy to build about half a stand. Is it really unimaginable to think we may ever find a deal at least as "good" as this one should the DK proposal fail?
30 Posted 20/04/2009 at 18:23:15
Why should we choose to follow the advice of somebody who chose to follow Sparta Rotterdam? Mind your own business Peter or are you a KEIOC placement designed to keep wound open?
31 Posted 21/04/2009 at 12:00:28
Live abroad for any period of time and if you have a yearning for live footy it is only natural to pick up an allegiance to a local team. If the city in question has two or more teams then you may be presented with a ’choice’ in which case you will probably have to ’choose’.
Doesn’t diminish in any way your love or support of the blues. Your opinion that it somehow makes someone a "shallow character" is much in line with your opinion of DK - utter bollocks! Mate.
32 Posted 21/04/2009 at 12:37:11
EVERTON could yet stay at Goodison Park . . . despite waiting for the Government go-ahead to a controversial new stadium.
Club officials have been shown plans for the redevelopment of one of the Premier League’s oldest grounds.
And there could be a dramatic twist in a saga that has split Everton down the middle.
Chairman Bill Kenwright is waiting for the result of an inquiry into the £400million Destination Kirkby project, which would see Everton move to a new 50,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Liverpool.
But Secretary of State Hazel Blears is not expected to rule on the plans until the end of November - and Everton would not be able to move in before the 2012-13 season.
Kenwright’s bid to relocate from Goodison Park - built in 1892 - has enraged large sections of fans.
But supporters’ action groups will be buoyed by the news plans for Goodison have been seen by club officials.
Kenwright has said ’in an ideal world’ he would like to stay at Goodison but the club have no option with a move.
33 Posted 04/05/2009 at 00:26:52
Everton need 60,000 easily expandable to 75,000 if need be. If you want to be No. 1, then think and do like No. 1. A 50,000 second rate ground is keeping the staus quo, and that is not
NIL SATIS NISI OPTIUM.