Cambridge United reveal further details of the club’s exciting vision to become a sustainable Championship club, following the recent consultation exercise delivered by Grosvenor regarding the redevelopment of the Abbey Stadium and the creation of a Trumpington-based Sports Village.
Alongside Grosvenor, the club have announced exciting plans that would see the stadium increase its capacity to 11,000+ and include new corporate and conferencing facilities to create additional revenue.
The complete redevelopment of the ground would play an integral role in the club’s exciting vision for the future, and would be completed over three phases.
Phase one, to be completed by Grosvenor, would involve a completely redeveloped Newmarket Road End, which would include a new frontage with a civic square, club shop, supporters club and community facility, ticket office and a safe standing terrace with a capacity of 3,500.
The inclusion of a new entrance to the ground in phase one, would potentially allow the club to complete two further phases of redevelopment, beginning with the demolition of the Habbin Stand to be replaced by a new iconic all-seater stand.
This would increase the stand’s capacity to over 3,000 with enhanced disabled provision, further spectator facilities within the undercroft of the stand and a flexible corporate and conferencing facility to seat 300 diners or cater for 400 delegates.
A business plan that would see the new facilities generate an additional £1,000,000 revenue each year, would help to fund phase three of the redevelopment. The club will announce details of how the new West Stand will be financed upon Grosvenor receiving confirmation of planning permission at Trumpington.
The final phase will see a complete refurbishment of the Main Stand which will also increase in capacity to more than 3,000, through the replacement of the front seats to maintain the sweep of seats into a single tier, plus enhanced disabled provision and spectator facilities in a new undercroft.
A second level will then be created by extending behind the existing structure, incorporating a new boardroom, director’s lounge, supporters bar, hospitality suites and community spaces.
A third tier will be built to accommodate individual executive boxes at the back of the stand, with glass frontages, and private seating, whilst the roof will be replaced with a modern, cantilevered structure. In addition, the stand will be extended towards the South Stand to provide extra seats to maximise capacity.
Grosvenor will support the club through the redevelopment by agreeing a sustainable and affordable new long-term lease, having already given the club considerable rent relief since becoming landlords in 2010.
For their first three years as landlords, Grosvenor charged no rent enabling the club to survive whilst outside the Football League, and even at present, the amount being charged is far less than the amount permitted within the terms of the original lease.
Currently the annual rent of the Abbey Stadium, as per the original lease from 2004 should be over £300,000. However this is subject to a five yearly review which has already increased that figure by over £100,000 per annum across ten years.
The long-term outcome of this lease, if planning permission for the development at Trumpington is not granted, would be financially prohibitive for the club.
The only way the rent issue can be resolved definitively, to provide the club with long-term security, is through planning permission being granted for the housing development and Sporting Village at Trumpington.
This Sporting Village would provide the U’s with a state-of-the-art training base for our first team and academy. These facilities would allow our academy to achieve category 2 status, enjoyed by some of the biggest clubs in the country, and provide our best players access to an enhanced games programme.
The Trumpington-based facility would also act as a headquarters for the Cambridge United Community Trust, which continues to show rapid growth as it actively engages with 8,000 youngsters every year.
Both projects are in conjunction with each other and require planning approval, with Grosvenor unable to fund development at the Abbey Stadium, without permission to complete work on the Trumpington Meadows site.
Cambridge United Chairman Dave Doggett said: “Whilst the club currently delivers a variety of youth development and community programmes across Cambridgeshire through our Community Trust, the potential growth with a base at a new Sporting Village is truly immeasurable.
“The facility would allow the club to make considerable steps forward in engaging, educating and inspiring the next generation throughout our city using the power of sport. We can tackle issues such as childhood obesity and a myriad of other issues by creating healthy, active, respectful young citizens who can contribute to the future of our city.
“As the city’s leading professional sports club, we feel a responsibility to expand our influence across all cross sections of the community at every possible opportunity, and these plans would benefit the city of Cambridge as a whole.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the club’s sensational vision, Chief Executive Jez George added: “Our business is now growing at such an extent that without significantly enhanced facilities our future progress will be severely compromised.
“Our average crowd has trebled to 5800 in two years and our turnover this financial year has grown to almost £4,000,000, excluding all FA Cup income. For the first time in living memory, the club has achieved a break even financial result, again excluding all FA Cup income.
“Cambridge United is now run as a proper, self-sustaining business.
“However, without enhanced facilities and the rent issue resolved, the club's ability to prosper and continue progression on and off the pitch would be restricted."
Holmes Miller Architects of Glasgow who have provided these images, has developed a substantial reputation for experience, expertise and flair in the design and delivery of stadia and multi-use buildings.
Many of their designs have become the architectural backdrop to famous sporting occasions from the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield to The Ashes at the Oval, with a client list including Manchester United FC, Celtic FC and Rangers FC.