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.