Local media is reporting that plans for Lincoln City’s new stadium are being finalised, ready for submission this October.
The new ground will form part of a much wider project to develop the ‘Western growth corridor’, or Swanpool area. As well as the new ground plans will be submitted for 3200 homes, a hotel and new access points to link the ambitious development to existing transport links.
The council’s Strategic Director of Major Development, Kate Ellis, told www.lincolnshirelive.com
“The consultation event on Wednesday, June 28 attracted over 70 visitors, and we have gained some valuable feedback during the two sessions. This is the start of a consultation process where there will be a range of events for people to air their views and give us ideas. Our intention is to submit outline planning permission for the Western Growth Corridor, along with detailed junction designs, in October this year. We hope that on-site work will begin by late 2018, subject to planning consent. It will be phased project, with key elements taking shape over the next 20 to 25 years.”
Whilst there are wider implications for the city are obvious, I’m only really bothered about the football stadium.
The plans show it in the same place it has been long rumoured, and it creates interesting possibilities. Firstly, the new stadium isn’t too far from the city centre, and it opens up the Nosey Parker as a potential ‘home’ pub. The ground would only be a short walk from there across the retail parks.
It is still easily reachable on foot from the major car parks in the city, so we wouldn’t lose that closeness we feel to Sincil Bank. This isn’t an out-of-town stadium sanitised for the modern-day football fan, it looks as if we’re still going to retain the prime location. I’d hope the outline plans will have adequate car parking facilities, as the Tritton Road area of town can be a nightmare.
The plans reveal new links to Skellingthorpe Road and Tritton road too, which might alleviate some of the concerns around traffic. I suspect many fans would retain their current match day regime, but instead of clogging up Sincil Bank it would be the West End that received a bulk of the traffic. As the major veins of the city come clogged on match day anyway, I don’t see an awful lot of negatives or positive around the traffic. Whenever you have a football match with more than 3000 people attending it is going to impact traffic.
Speaking to local media earlier in the year, Bob Dorrian was open about the need for a new stadium:
“We need a stadium that will earn us money 365 days a year. We need proper banqueting facilities, function rooms and seminar rooms. “While we’ve got some of that here at Sincil Bank, it’s all a bit antiquated and it doesn’t work very well.”
With the greatest of respect to our ground, it doesn’t work well. I was there on Monday, we used the board room in the morning, during which a random walked off the street looking for the set of a film he was in. We were moved later on as the board room doubled as the media suite, and the extent of the business facilities are the executive boxes. It works because it has to and because the people there make it work through diligence and compromise, but a new stadium could be custom-built to just work as it is.
There are other hold-ups though, so don’t expect to be walking down Alexander Way anytime soon. The new stadium requires access before ground is broken, and that hasn’t even started yet.
“A road bridge needs to be built to make that site accessible and that could be between three and five years away. What we’re doing now is putting everything in place as much as we can before we can actually get on the site. Then we can show investors something concrete. At the moment, three to five years is probably too far ahead for most investors. When the road is in, or at least being started, we can then start talking to more people who maybe want to be included in the new stadium. But we’re at the mercy of that road development so we can access the site. By the end of 2017, we would hope to have things in place so we’re ready to press the button.”
Now the consultation period has started, expect to see much more of this in the news and press.
One word of caution: talking about staying at the Bank and spending money on it is pointless. This stadium move is going to happen, and when it does it will be emotional, gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. Sincil Bank is my church, as it is yours. I’ve cried tears of sadness and tears of joy. I’ve held the ones I love close as we’ve watched the Imps succeed, and I’ve consoled myself in their hugs when we’ve failed. When my life fell apart, 3pm on a Saturday at Sincil Bank was my respite. Leaving it will kill a tiny part of my Imps support off.
However, a new ground and state of the art facilities will spring a new shoot that is inherently different. Sincil Bank can’t ever be replaced, but Lincoln City have to go on, and if we’re to survive the next century of ever-increasing capitalism and pressure from mega-money teams above, we must move and give ourselves further commercial options. Our commercial team do really well now, I’m told Richie Bates would sell his shoes as advertising space if he could. Imagine what a motivated and driven team could achieve with more facilities and opportunities. Sadly, this move has to happen. So please don’t moan or try to start a campaign because you’ll be wasting your time.