Newcastle United headhunt £4.8bn architects with 'genius' pedigree who can make St James’ Park ‘best in the world’

The SoFI Stadium in Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe SoFI Stadium in Los Angeles, California
The SoFI Stadium in Los Angeles, California | AFP via Getty Images
St James’ Park could be given a drastic facelift in the coming years as Newcastle United plan an unprecedented rebuild

Globally renowned architects HKS are drafting up creative plans to make St James’ Park one of the most unique stadiums in world football, according to reportsd.

The iconic designers built the £4.8bn SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles - set to host the 2026 World Cup and is the most expensive ground ever built. They also constructed Dallas Cowboys’ 80,000-seater behemoth which features a retractable roof.

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Both designs are famed for their unprecedented exterior. Given the obstacles St James’ Park faces, a problem-solving genius like HKS is needed.

Toon chiefs are moving every needle possible to ensure more supporters can roar on Newcastle. The current 52,000 capacity has remained since the turn of the century and diehard fans are already locked out. 

More bums on seats will increase revenue as Newcastle aim to combat FFP/PSR measures but, logistically, has proven a nightmare. Leazes Park Terrace behind the East Stand predates St James’ Park and contains Grade I listed buildings.

Leazes Park itself is also Grade II listed, with concerns also arising about expanding the Gallowgate End given Strawberry Place, a busy city-centre road, sits directly behind it. Speaking to the i, HKS’ regional design director for sports and entertainment Alex Thomas, who attended Newcastle University, embraced the hurdles St James’ Park presents.

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“Designers in any discipline will tell you that being backed into a corner and having lots of constraints often creates the environment for real, genuine creativity because you’re being forced to be creative to solve a really difficult problem,” he said. “That usually involves challenging the norms, moving away from what has been done elsewhere and you can bring in ideas from other realms. 

“Newcastle is going to demand some really innovative, different thinking, it’s going to need dialogue with planners, safety authorities, it’s going to be need the club to be brave, to have a vision and stick with it. 

There’s no doubt some pretty interesting outcomes that could manifest itself there if the client really wants to push it. I think it would look very different to any other football ground we’ve seen elsewhere.

“I know what that stadium means to the people in Newcastle. Art, sport, religion, culture – they all come back to Newcastle United. There’s a real strong identity about Newcastle. There’s so many different unique aspects about that club from the colours to the supporters and part of the stadium exercise there would need to be about capturing that, harnessing it, amplifying it and making the experience of the home fans even more intense.”

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