The following article appeared in the club’s official matchday programme for the game against Wycombe Wanderers (played on April 18, 2015).
More stadium details revealed
Dons Trust Board Vice Chair David Growns reports on the recent Special General Meeting at which information about the new stadium was presented to Trust members.
Recent SGMs have all followed the same format, so this time the Dons Trust Board (DTB) resolved to do something different to see how things worked out: a single topic (admittedly the topic on everyone’s mind – stadium design!) and a round-table format. Those who attended were rewarded with an interesting and lively meeting.
Erik Samuelson introduced Andrew Williams, our stadium advisor, and together they took the meeting through three key topics – timing, finance and design. On the first of these, we are hoping for a planning decision in May, leading to a detailed design completed in October, construction starting in April 2016, completion in May 2017 and our first game planned for July 2017. Members were taken through the various sources of finance – a contribution from developers Galliard, the sale of Kingsmeadow, a bank loan, naming rights and a Community Share issue.
Andrew explained that the process of consultation on the detailed design was under way – we have to start now rather than wait for the planning decision, or we will miss the target for stadium opening. Eighteen groups had already been consulted, including the DTB, the Football Club Board, Neal Ardley, the Foundation, the groundsman and the merchandise team, and this process is ongoing. The purpose of the SGM was to start to engage members, the owners of the club, in this process.
Andrew reminded the meeting that this stadium is a very tight fit in the available space, so there are constraints. Demand for space is greater than supply, so there will need to be prioritisation. There was then a lively discussion focused on three main issues: the pitch (grass or artificial?), should we be all-seater or should there be some safe standing, and the problems of limited parking.
Members left the design team with a number of suggestions to think about. The list is too long to reproduce here, but it included topics such as sustainability, no large separation of spectators from the pitch, a base for volunteers, sourcing local catering suppliers and disabled seating. These have all been fed into the process, so thanks to everybody who put suggestions forward at the meeting, or emailed or tweeted them.
If you would like to contribute to this process, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions, questions or areas of interest you want to get involved in. In the meantime, watch out for news of further member engagement events coming soon.
Appreciate this is an obvious point and no doubt is being covered in detail already, but I didnt see family seating included in the priorities list.
I remember being told at Kingsmeadow some years ago my son couldn’t sit on my shoulders which effectively meant he couldn’t see. Not ideal. He’s big enough to see now, but I now have 2 young daughters and am keen they can watch matches in comfort (away from some of the more lively sections of the ground) at our new home. Also a constant issue when taking kids (especially girls) to any sporting events is the toilets. Would be great if we had plenty of decent facilites within the family section.
Keep up the good work. Many thanks.
Trust Member and Shareholder.
What about sustainable energy for the Stadium to reduce running costs? Recycled water, solar panels and wind turbines could make it the first self sufficient football stadium in the country (if not Europe?).
Good idea Brendan. SC Frieburg (now in the Bundesliga) installed enough solar electric (photovoltaic) panels to not only serve its own needs, but also to sell surplus renewable energy to the grid creating income for the club. Later the club attracted a sponsorship deal with a solar panel manufacturer.
Thanks Erik, to me that makes it even more of a consideration if potentially we (the club) can earn an income from it.
That’s a good idea you should come to Portugal and visit the FC Porto Stadium Estádio do Dragão here we have a very good recycling sistem that you should apply in your new stadium.
Glad to see the comments on regarding Disabled facilities, I hope this will also include Disabled parking?.
I agree with Steve O’Donoghue. I have 2 children i am training to be young Dons but taking them to the games these days has become almost impossible. Because of their age you get into the ground very early so you can get up against the back wall but then to be told not allowed to put a child on your shoulder. When we were children at Plough Lane, children could go down the front against the fence. Now we have the walk way around the front of the standing areas that is not possible. Children are the future life blood of the club and we risk loosing them if they cannot enjoy going to see AFC.
I think that one of the traditions that might remain when we move is the post match man of the match presentation. It’s a great way for the fans to mix with players. As we get more ‘professional’, it would be a shame to lose this intimacy. Are there plans for a large bar/entertainment area that would be open for fans to attend post match to mix with players and see the presentation? I think keeping this would say a lot about our credentials as a fans’ club.