building a new future
|It's been a while since the Finale
and I have been in two minds as to whether I wanted to see the new
stadium being built or remember the Lane as it was until the day
comes when we return to N17.
Girding my loins, I made the trip to the Lane and turning off the A10 onto White Hart Lane, you could see the cranes and the uppermost part of the structure from way before the cemetery and not far from Bill Nick's old home. The stadium dominates the area and is incongruous with its surroundings; gargantuan and humungous in size. I can't really relay just how big the outside of the structure looks, as it is something that you can only marvel at when you are standing across the street to it.
I found great difficulty parking anywhere near the ground. Even without the parking restrictions in place, the roads around the stadium were almost totally parked up. There was a wall of containers piled up along the ground side of Park Lane to provide some noise protection to the residents, with work being 7 days a week while we were still playing there. The "trees" were being put in place and the East Stand and North Stand look to have quite a bit of glazing in. The ground rises vertically from the street side, with the East Stand slightly overhanging Worcester Avenue, There must be thousands of people working on the project and their trade will be helping the local traders to keep going in the club's absence from the area.
A lot of the services are in place and the South Stand is the one playing catch up, being the last to be demolished. The space behind it to allow the pitch to be retracted is currently empty, but will be the site of the Public Square and the hotel and housing. These might not be finished by the time the stadium opens for business, but the whole scheme should be substantially finished by the start of the 2018-19 season.
A couple of immediate issues struck me while I was walking around the ground.
First off was the pricing structure. To make sure it is filled on a regular basis, you would have to ensure that seats were affordable and the pricing at Wembley has shown that if you get that right, then the capacity can be reached. It won't happen for every game, but a flexible pricing regime could allow people to get to some of the lesser games and sensible ticket prices would allow families to go to games without needing to take out a mortgage to do so. The whole idea about increasing the capacity is to bring more in through the paying customers, but this should be done by making the ground full to capacity, not by exploiting the paying customers by upping prices to realise the maximum income.
Secondly, my mind boggles at the ability to clear 61,500 plus fans from the area around the ground. The intended "Wembley Way" style walkway over the High Road would have assisted in managing the flow to White Hart Lane station, but at Wembley they have vast experience of handling the clearance of fans from the stadium. It is rumoured that around 58,000 people went through Wembley Park tube station at the Real Madrid game.
Tottenham lacks a tube station, where there is a possibility to run more trains to clear people from the platforms. There are two old BR stations, hemmed in by houses and other buildings, so there is little room for expansion. The tube station at Seven Sisters does allow some fans to make their way away from the stadium on foot, but many now get the train from WHL to Seven Sisters or Northumberland Park to Tottenham Hale to change onto the Victoria Line. How the additional 20,000 will be handled and with many of them going to the BR stations, there is not sufficient space to hold fans until the platforms are clear. Both stations were overcrowded before the season ended at the Lane. And the schedules at both stations are less than sufficient on match days, with often four carriage trains arriving at Northumberland Park to take travellers to Stratford (when they have been advertised as 8 carriage trains).
These worries are not really of Tottenham's concern, as they are beyond the realm of the stadium, but such issues need to be planned for and working with the relevant agencies will ensure clearing the area after the game will be easy for those who attend events there, but also for those in the surrounding neighbourhood.
Spurs have been canvassing fans about what would keep them in the stadium after the game or attract them to it early before kick off. One of the problems is that fans are traditional creatures and usually arrive at the ground close to kick off and want to leave fairly soon after the final whistle. Wembley has proved this, with many people missing the start because of long queues and slow searching procedures.
If the club want to do this to regulate the movement of people away from the ground, they will need to look at things very carefully. Pricing of food and drink needs to be acceptable to the fans, who might choose to eat outside the stadium with Sainsburys and and other local eateries available. Wembley's food is priced at just above average prices, but when served cold, a supporter might find a warmer welcome from proprietors outside the confines of the ground. Also, at 3.30 for a large cup of soft drink and 7 pounds for a beer, it is possible that they are pricing themselves out of a (captive) market. Tottenham need to provide something to watch that will keep fans interested after the match and pitch the prices right to bring them to the food outlets inside the new stadium.
There will be other problems, especially when people turn up at the ground for the first game, with new routes into the stadium needing to be found and how things are located inside.
For the moment, the ground is rising fast and with it looking very impressive, the new Lane will be a stadium worthy of the club. The club's job, once it is built, is to fill it ... and then put plans in place to empty it.
Make your own mind up with these photos of the progress that is being made in the construction of the new stadium.
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