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The Lansdown Dawe Arena

A Personal Take on the New Stadium Plans

By Bristol Boy

So, the rumours that have persisted since the decision to put rebuilding the EE on hold are true and Ashton Gate is to be sold off & bulldozed, no doubt making way for a retail park, hotel and what is now called modern living, which is, in fact, the way people used to live years ago - you know, in close proximity to town centres, shops, transport & amenities!

I suppose it had to come and many of those, like me, who come from that generation, will be sad to leave.  However, in the modern era where finance is vastly more important than people or football, I suppose it was inevitable.

New training ground also good news
I was just as happy to see the announcement on the training facilities at QEH because, in the long term thatís as important as trying to pack 30,000 people into said new arena at around £30 a head. Not that weíll get that many unless Man Utd, Chelsea and their Premier Div chums are in town because, even in a season when weíve exceeded the expectations of all but the most optimistic of fans, we canít fill our existing stadium which, depending on your opinion is either quaint, old fashioned, dated, tired or a proper football ground.

Corporate sponsors will be lined up to back everything from the car parks to the stands and there will be, no doubt, facilities that our West Country neighbours can only dream of.

The Tescoís East End or The John Laycock Car Park may not have a ring to them, but the sponsorship will set the tills ringing

Safe pair of hands
In SL we have a man who we know will ensure that we can afford it and who will not put the club in hock to the banks or anyone else. Iíve every confidence that our stadium will be built and properly funded with the football side enjoying some kind of leasing arrangements from an SPV over an extended period. The upshot of that will mean itís affordable and not crippling like St Maryís has been for Southampton.

Fans are due to have an input into design and, at a time when football fans feel the game and their clubs are slipping away from them wouldnít it be great if they had input into both the design and the naming of the stadium?

Safe standing
Safe standing, something of which I and many others are in favour, should be incorporated and those who wish to stand should be catered for, particularly so they donít stand in front of me blocking my view, because I actually prefer to sit - How about a standing & singing area holding 3-5,000 - SAFE STANDING - NOT TERRACING - ITíS NOT THE SAME!!! (see related story from September and OTIB thread Ė Ed.).

Stand up as away fans at Ipswich (home fans are allowed to) and you get a three-year ban, stand up at Watford andÖ well, thatís OK!! This is a chance for football to listen to itís most vital partÖ the people who actually watch it.

Iíd also like to see flexible segregation in blocks of 500 off to one side of the stadium, so home fans occupy both ends.

Price is another massive issue and full consideration should be given to making watching, simple and affordable. If you think AGís quiet when itís half full, go and look at Coventry on a similar day.

If I have a wish or even request to SL itís this: Donít forget the people that helped put us where we are, and as well as GJ & the lads have done, they couldnít have done it without the fans who stuck with this club through thin & thin (thatís not a misprint).  We should redouble our efforts to keep City as part of the community, all of our community, not just the ones with the dough to enjoy our recent success

Stadium design
So, the design? There are many examples of modern stadia. MK Dons is near me and cost around £42m. It looks fine and itís far better than AG in terms of access, parking, accommodation and corporate facilities - the thing is, it lacks character although itís difficult to tell when itís never full.

Hullís ground isnít bad, but the McAlpine is another modern stadium that seems dull - The Majdeski?

Iím sure we donít need to reinvent the wheel, and the ideas - successful ones and failures - are there to view before we have to commit to a final design.

All in all, Iím sure itís a done deal and, barring relegation, it would appear necessary because redeveloping any part of AG would reduce capacity for years at a time when itís not inconceivable that we could be in The Premier League.

If our investment on the field reflects that off it, even by a small percentage, we are indeed in for an exciting time. It has to be said that SL has been true to his word when he promised more if we were promoted. Even he must be surprised at how well itís gone on the playing side, along with the rest of us, GJ included!

Togetherness and involvement
Itís good to be moving forward together and that togetherness must be reflected in consultation and involvement, all round. If we want people to feel included then that inclusion must be genuinely embraced at all levels of support throughout the club and the wider community, from our new-found Premier Club members to those who stood on the terraces at Doncaster, Halifax, Aldershot and, dare I say it, Twerton Park, when things werenít quite as grand.

The views expressed in this 'Soapbox' section are those of the author of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bristol City Supporters Trust

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