Architects make ‘risk’ Newcastle United St James’ Park expansion claim

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Newcastle United co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi has shared aspirations to add 13,000 seats to St James’ Park.

Architects have warned that an expansion of St James' Park could leave the stadium's famous atmosphere 'at risk' for Newcastle United home games.

Last month, The Times reported that the possibility of upgrading the East Stand was 'under serious discussion' with modern, glass-heavy architecture earmarked as a potential way to get around the Leazes Conservation Area.

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Newcastle United co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi has previously shared his desire to boost the St James' Park capacity from 52,000 to nearer 65,000 with tickets to see the Magpies currently gold dust on Tyneside.

NewcastleWorld spoke to local architect firm Sadler Brown about the logistics of an expansion earlier this year and, while the group shared excitement at the possibilities available to the club, highlighted that such steps should be taken with caution.

Not only could increasing capacity trigger stadium access and crowd management problems, but the architects point out that getting the “mood and atmosphere right” will be vital.

Sadler Brown said: “Larger stadiums have different relationships between the pitch and the spectators; sometimes the tension of the close connection between players and fans adds to the sense of theatre and heightens the sensory experience and atmosphere which could be at risk if the stadium expands too much.”

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Newcastle United fans are hoping for an expansion to St James’ Park (Image: Getty Images)Newcastle United fans are hoping for an expansion to St James’ Park (Image: Getty Images)
Newcastle United fans are hoping for an expansion to St James’ Park (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

At St James' Park, fans are currently very close to the pitch and players, which aids the cauldron-like atmosphere the cathedral on the hill is famous for. At some Premier League stadiums, such as West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, supporters can feel a long way back from the action.

Sadler Brown also noted that an increase in foot and car traffic could adversely affect emergency vehicle access to the nearby RVI and that any road closures for construction could cause public disruption.

Earlier this year Newcastle United bought back the Strawberry Place land right outside the stadium after it was sold by Mike Ashley four years earlier.

The land had been flogged to developers who planned to construct 328 flats, an office block and a 213-bedroom hotel outside the Gallowgate End. However, those developers fell into financial trouble and a scrapped council bailout loan allowed the new owners to swoop in. News of that re-purchase in January added fuel to the fire of expansion rumours.

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Sadler Brown commented on the potential to turn that space into a fan zone in the immediate future before its intriguing vertical structure could be cleverly used by architects wanting to expand the ground.

Sadler Brown is not and has not previously carried out any architectural services for Newcastle United and has not been contacted by the club about expansion and provided this comment to NewcastleWorld as fans of the club and architects in the city.

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