With regards to the new stadium proposal I would like to momentarily turn our attention to key stadium design issues that affect the regular matchgoing fan. We cannot just believe that the architects will consider all of these.

Building for Expansion

A central key to any stadium build, that will also affect other design issues, is the stadium being designed for expansion. A simple example of this, with fairly flexible stages, is:

Original build of 50,000 capacity;
Stage 1: Side Stand additional tier added – 57,000;
Stage 2: Opposite Side Stand additional tier – 64,000;
Stage 3: End Stand additional tier – 68,000;
Stage 4: Opposite end tier – 72,000;
Stage 5-8: Four Corners, reaching 80,000.

The numbers used and methods for expansion are merely loose suggestions and a worthy discussion in their own right. A clever design should ensure that if, Everton only ever reached Stage X of this expansion plan, then it will still look aesthetically complete. They could mix up how they chose to expand. So we could for example end up with just a 63,000 stadium but it would still look good, plus within the new tiers they could be fitted out to the modern requirements of that day.

Should Everton go with a stadium built for expansion even? Perhaps go with a 60-65,000-seater stadium straight off? As football is ultimately a competition to be the best, would we be happy to cap our potential at 50,000 or 55,000 and so knowing that Liverpool and Man United will always have a bigger stadium – despite that for the majority of our existence they had a smaller support than us?

External Appearance

It seems to boil down to a spaceship versus a traditional look. It is subjective. However, an expansion program would require a change in the external appearance so is it worth going over the top with expense regarding how it looks on the outside to begin with? If no expansion program is in place, would you be in favour of the spaceship or traditional look?

Shallow vs Steep Stands

People often say that the new stadiums lack the atmosphere of the old stadiums. A big reason why the older stadiums have a better atmosphere is that the stands are shallower. Steep stands can look imposing, creating the illusion they are better for atmosphere, but it is a myth that they actually are better for atmosphere.

Steeper stands are designed for sightline reasons, which is again what people want. They fit the computer formula, but they are at the expense of atmosphere which isn’t part of their formula. Different fans want different things. If they want to fill a large stadium, then they must please as many fans as possible. We (the fans) are not all the same.

Further considerations include stands that are parabolas meaning they get steeper further back. A limit is put on the steepness for larger stands as, after all in Row ZZZZ you still need to see through the clouds.... The number of tiers, and leg room influence gradient too. Again then, the question of building for expansion has an impact on the gradient of the stands. Let's hope they don't have a 'computer says no' attitude when considering this....

Number of tiers

A general rule is that too many tiers will filter and so lose the atmosphere. I certainly would not like Everton to have more than two tiers, particularly in the end stands. Goodison Park was originally built single-tiered but, over the decades, we expanded it to double tiers. The Gwladys Street was a single tier for the first 47 years of its existence before we expanded it with the overlapping upper tier.

Building for expansion, then, raises the question: Do we start with single tiers then add a second tier in an expansion program? Perhaps we can start with a double tier but have the option of adding 15 to 20 rows at the back of the second tier?

All the design considerations above are affected by building for expansion. In a sense, perhaps it would be an idea to design the ultimate potential of a new Goodison, and then work backwards, to see how the original build would look like.

Non expansion issues:

Internal appearance

The three graces of Goodison: Leitch criss-crosses, the church, the old Main Stand Gable.

The church has in my opinion been shamefully hidden to remove a Goodison grace that cannot be replicated on a move. For me, the church is a reason enough to stay but that’s for a separate debate. The other two: please include.

Executive boxes

We’re going to get loads of them, but please please keep them away from the End Stands. The thought of the Lower Gwladys Street equivalent having executive boxes directly behind those that want to generate the atmosphere will just cause problems, making the atmosphere harder to generate... meaning it will be created less often.

An idea for one executive box would be a Tech Zone. A specialised room for fans to watch the match that is full of all the up-to-date gadgets, stats galore, ongoing Opta indexes, using the window or headsets for heat maps, other match updates etc. Well, use your imagination on other technological advances, but it would be a good alternative to the standard executive boxes. I’m sure you’d get 15-20 people paying a premium to experience it.

Away fans

Where do we want them? Out of the way? By the end stand? In the end stand? Or somewhere else?

Type of Tiers

In the event of getting double tiers, then it is either an overlapping double tier, or a non-overlapping double tier. Avoid the non-overlapping double tier. Atmosphere is generated in only one or two areas and then the rest of the ground feed off the atmosphere they generate. The requirements of those areas have to be considered so that there is nothing there that will stifle them, and that, when it is generated, it is maximised. An overlapping double tier with the good acoustics on a low overhang as well as the roof would be great.

Focussing on the End Stands, this leaves the options being either an overlapping double tier, or a large single tier. If both are designed at their best, with the same capacity for comparison purposes, what is the best? Do the research, Everton, and report back on the results.

Corners

Squared or rounded? Open or closed? Rounded gives the bowl effect. Squared, more of a Goodison look (well Gwladys St/Bullens Road corner only, actually). Closed, like the Park End, acoustically very good; open, you have more seats...

Rows in End Stands

The Lower Gwladys has 41 rows with the noise generated at the back. The idea is for the acoustics at the back to make the noise loud enough for the rest of the Lower Gwladys to be compelled into joining in with them. A larger stand can naturally have the potential of being louder as there’s more people in there. So ideally we would like more rows than now. There is a point, though, where the stand can be too big, whereby the noise generated at the back is just too far away.

There is a criticism of the Stretford End (90 rows), Holte End (80+) and the Kop (76 rows) where the sound is lost before it reaches the front. Ideally, then, anywhere from 50 up to 65 rows for a lower tier or single tier?

Future Considerations

It's highly possible that safe standing areas may be introduced; could we earmark one area that would meet the standing criteria for easy conversion?

Very few of those decisions are actually a question of expense. We should expect Everton FC to be able to give informed reasons for whatever they decide on all of the above.

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Reader Comments (33)

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Ralph Basnett
1 Posted 10/10/2014 at 06:57:32
Whilst I appreciate the effort in writing this piece, it is flawed in many levels:

Man Utd and Liverpool for most having a smaller following?

Expansion details when not built, no drawings and the fact we will never fill 50,000 – let alone 80,000.

Supporters feeling compelled to sing because the rest of that stand sing? I sit in the main stand at the Park End and can hear the Gwladys Street sing but choose not to join in.

At the end of the day, it is Blue Bill's trainset, he does not have to consult with us and won't because he will give us the best stadium his pocket and his backers' pockets want to give us – be it The Emirates or The Reebok.

Dennis Stevens
2 Posted 10/10/2014 at 08:39:26
If it ever happens, & that's a big if, it'll be a cheap shed. Under this Board, anyway.
Steve Carse
3 Posted 10/10/2014 at 12:36:20
All valid issues from the atmosphere perspective. I'd add a few more. Not having the gangways too wide. Having a solid bank of seats behind the goals ie without a gangway and without an entrance there.

i think though that atmosphere will be the last consideration. In many ways there is a direct clash of requirements between atmosphere and commercial design – and the latter will always prevail for English clubs.

Declan Martin
4 Posted 10/10/2014 at 12:55:06
I have visited a lot of newly constructed sports stadiums in recent years, and the common theme is that those who benefit most from the improvements are officials (specially reserved areas on the halfway line), corporates (lots of boxes and premium seats), media (lots of seats for journos with laptops and improved technology) and players (swishy dressing rooms and car parking areas).

The group who benefit least are the fans, who are normally moved further away from the playing area – but maybe get some extra toilets and more bars where they can spend more money. But usually the atmosphere is poorer.

Mike Childs
5 Posted 10/10/2014 at 13:10:00
I think Declan just said it all. Hit the head of the nail dead on.
Craig Walker
7 Posted 10/10/2014 at 13:22:37
The way we're playing, there'll be plenty of tiers...
Steavey Buckley
8 Posted 10/10/2014 at 15:19:56
When it comes to building stadiums, the ancient Romans designed arenas that could generate atmosphere. And the roar of the crowd (although for wrong reasons) could be heard from ground level right to the top, because they understood the need to get the design right for the acoustics.

Most stadiums built since the Victorian have tended to look like giant meccano sets sadly lacking the dynamics of the ancient Romans. The only building of note that adopted the classicism of the ancients is the Albert Hall near Kensington gardens, London.

David S Shaw
9 Posted 10/10/2014 at 16:04:48
Ralph Basnett:
Liverpool only started getting a larger attendances than us in the early 70s, Man U I believe was the 50s. Prolonged success means many new fans. If we had prolonged success, or European success then we will definitely need far more than 50,000. When Goodison was built I am glad it could have been expanded beyond 12,000 aren't you?

Supporters in general are far more likely to join in with a song they can hear loudly than one they cannot hear very well. I'm sure you'll agree with that?

Gavin Johnson
10 Posted 10/10/2014 at 16:22:45
I'd really love it if any new stadium could be the first in the premiership to reintroduce a section for standing. I know there was talk of it in the recent past in the media. On the back of the woeful performances by the national team with the EPL being compared to the German Bundesliga. This comparison was on a number of areas from how my home grown players to ticket pricing. Another caveat of discussion was on the atmosphere that is generated in the Bundesliga, by way of fans being able to stand in parts of the grounds.

I know some people would say this is a step backwards but I think it would produce a great atmosphere. It would also mean that attendance could be increased and on the back of that, keep ticket pricing competitive.

John Keating
11 Posted 10/10/2014 at 20:15:08
David
if I had the money to build a new stadium or have any say in our design I wouldn't waste time and money on discussions.
I'd go over to Dortmund, give them 20 euros for their stadium design, come home and give them to a builder to build a smaller model !
Great stadium, great design, great atmosphere.
Peter Barry
12 Posted 11/10/2014 at 10:13:19
I've got a question: Where's the money coming from? Wke keep being told we have not got a pot to piss in.
Phil Walling
13 Posted 11/10/2014 at 10:15:11
Recent 'plans' to build at WHP were nothing more than an attempt to deflect criticism of the Council's backing of an improved Anfield.

Everton have little or no ambition to re-locate unless and until one of Bill's mates comes up with another daft plan for a retail complex to fund the scheme. Until then, further debate is unnecessary.

Clive Rogers
14 Posted 11/10/2014 at 10:52:38
I also have no faith in this board to deliver a new ground in my lifetime.
Dennis Stevens
15 Posted 11/10/2014 at 17:18:09
There's no money, Peter, and none needed as no new stadium is realistically on the horizon. It's just a shame they don't spend some of the TV money on a staged redevelopment of Goodison Park instead – it could have all been done by now if they'd started there in the first place.
Andy Crooks
16 Posted 11/10/2014 at 21:42:54
Why would a Standing Area be safe now when it was deemed dangerous in the past?
Gavin Johnson
17 Posted 11/10/2014 at 23:12:02
Because folk wouldn't be fenced in now, Andy. They manage it easy enough on the continent. That being said, Yes, I agree that it's highly unlikely because of government rulings.
Tom Hughes
18 Posted 12/10/2014 at 07:14:17
Very interesting article, David.... How to future-proof our new stadium design, to ensure we have something that meets our needs throughout its phased evolution. I'm sure many of your points would be equally applicable to a phased redevelopment of Goodison Park.

It's also very easy for people to be sceptical given: our serial failures on the stadium front; our apparent financial weakness; and multiple failures to deliver on infrastructure development throughout this board's tenure.

My feelings are that the stadium issues are not going to go away, (although some might argue the opposite...) that increasing the matchday income is a less onerous priority given the levels of TV income these days, and that we can afford to concentrate efforts on team building. Perhaps even extolling the virtues of preserving the Grand Old Lady, warts and all, as a relic of a bygone era – just as they have done for those baseball icons of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field in the US. Just getting rid of all upper tier obstructed views, and adding capacity and corporate facilities where space allows.

My major concern is the continued refusal to fully consider the redevelopment option by the club. A relatively small expansion on the Bullens side and at the Park end could readily see us create equivalent or greater capacity at Goodison than that proposed at WHP. This need not cost as much as a new stadium overall, as the development is significantly smaller, and it requires less cash up front. So, why is it dismissed out of hand when so many have chosen the redevelopment option ahead of relocation, and all of its associated risks?

Are there other issues? Has the club painted itself into a corner regarding redevelopment? Have the loans raised against the site at the time of our near-financial collapse left us as subservient tenants at our traditional home? Is this why we have been so keen to embrace ANY offers of a move elsewhere, or why the Park End development crashed? Have third parties (perhaps even board members) got plans for the current site that require our relocation? Or is it just a plain lack of vision?

Tom Hughes
19 Posted 12/10/2014 at 08:15:37
Andy (#16),

Standing isn't considered dangerous... otherwise, there wouldn't be terraces at several new and old rugby league and football stadiums all over the UK. Persistent standing on steep stands could be considered equally if not more dangerous. The issues relating to terraces were more about their mismanagement, poor design, restrictive fencing and other barriers, rather than the act of standing.

Maurice Reid
20 Posted 12/10/2014 at 09:39:03
I completely agree with Tom Hughes – we have a unique stadium with a unique history and atmosphere. My granddad supported Everton here in 1909! More top class games have been played here than anywhere else in the world and it still generates an atmosphere which is the envy of all.

Do we really want to give this up for some soulless Valhalla like the JJB Stadium, The Reebok? Even the mighty St James in Newcastle is a whispering echo of itself these days. I live in the Manchester area now and regularly hear City fans bemoaning their move to the Ethiad...

I wrote to Mr Kenwright (for whom I have a lot of respect) on this issue, but I guess his head is full of corporate hospitality and entertainment suites. Bill, you could have all that at the Park End – and we could keep our heart and soul!

Patrick Murphy
22 Posted 13/10/2014 at 17:21:04
Like many Blues I too would have preferred to have remained at Goodison Park because of it's emotional attachment and rich footballing history, however, I find myself wondering why the owners of Aintree haven't been approached to have a football ground built on their site. Surely the owners of the racecourse wouldn't be averse to seeing their land used more than it is currently. Only an idea mind.
John Keating
23 Posted 13/10/2014 at 20:13:59
When Barkley decides to go, with the daft money we get for him it should easily pay for the new Bullens Road stand...
The Barkley Stand – a nice ring to it and we'd know the money wouldn't get pissed up against a wall!
Ralph Basnett
24 Posted 15/10/2014 at 07:09:49
Patrick (22), I believe the owners of the racecourse were approached in the very late seventies or early eighties but I think it was for a joint stadium.

The general consensus was that a large stadium in the middle would not pair up with a racecourse as a lot of the sighting of horses would be lost.

We could make lots of arguments about overcoming this now but since then they have moved on with its golf course – and isn’t the racecourse virtually Kirkby?

John Zapa
25 Posted 15/10/2014 at 18:47:54
Rumour has it that there will be spades in the ground in 60 days....
Patrick Murphy
26 Posted 15/10/2014 at 18:55:45
Ralph - Thanks for that I didn't realise it was also a golf course, I wouldn't have thought that the people of Aintree believe they are in Kirkby and Aintree is also synonymous with the City of Liverpool. They could put seats on both sides of the stands to watch the racing and the football at different times obviously.

John (25) An early Christmas present or just another excuse not to bolster the squad in January?

Brent Stephens
27 Posted 15/10/2014 at 19:13:56
John #25 rumour has it that a certain sod will be turning the spade, rather than the other way round.
Linda Morrison
28 Posted 15/10/2014 at 19:17:45
John oh you of little faith. Barks will not go unless he is forced out and he won't be. Let's be positive – we are only 4 points off a Champions League place, people!
Mike Chambers
29 Posted 18/10/2014 at 18:47:00
I think a standing area incorporated into the design ready for the change in law is a good idea. Something we can easily change.
Paul Hewitt
30 Posted 19/10/2014 at 14:47:02
We will never get a new stadium until we have a new owner.
Jamie Crowley
31 Posted 22/10/2014 at 15:38:07
David -

I enjoyed this thought-provoking article very much. Thank you.

Assuming we actually do build a new stadium, for what it's worth I'd prefer:

● 50k capacity with expansion options up to 65k
● Traditional look
● Steep stands
● Double tiered
● Executive boxes - as many as possible ringing the middle of the stadium between the two tiers around the circumference of the stadium
● Away fans in a corner, any corner
● Rounded and closed corners

And thank you Linda for: Let's be positive – we are only 4 points off a Champions League place, people!

Couldn't agree more!

Alan Ross
32 Posted 26/10/2014 at 21:34:25
The suggestion that a new stadium in Walton Hall Park is the prefered designate is the perfect excuse for not redeveloping Goodison Park. I rest my case.
Sean McCarthy
33 Posted 05/11/2014 at 14:44:18
I've come into this thread late on but, in respect to the idea of moving to Aintree, which would be a non-starter these days anyway, the racecourse is in Sefton and outside the City boundaries so therefore would not be acceptable to our friends in KEIOC. It's only referred to as 'Liverpool' during the race meetings by a lazy press. The history of the Grand National is embedded within Sefton and was originally ran nearer to Maghull than its present-day location.

All-in-all, there's probably as much chance of me riding the winner of the National as there is of me taking my seat in a shiny new Stadium anytime soon!!!


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