AS every member of the Green Army who has been to Home Park lately will testify, the pace of work has increased markedly in recent weeks.
The scale of the work on the Mayflower terrace alone is astonishing, and you really do not appreciate it until you are up close. Tons and tons of spoil have been removed, with a pitch-level area now extending to around halfway up the terrace.
The installation of permanent seats in this area will be over an all-new steel structure which, as I have said before, will be far lower at the front end (pitch-level, of course), with the top-end raised to the level of the old executive boxes.
This huge new steel structure will then ‘fly-over’ this area, with the concrete lintels (and, of course, seats!) constructed there over.
The remaining edge of the old terrace is effectively the pivot on which this new structure will sit, which means that the top end of the old terrace will be there for our successors to find in years to come.
It is funny, really – when I first looked at the plans, I saw the Mayflower terrace as being one of the easiest parts of the project, given that we had temporary seats on there a decade or so ago.
However, the contemporary requirements of sports stadia viewing angles mean that this has ended up being one of the most labour and material-intensive parts of the development. It is going to be great having people in that area of the Theatre of Greens again, though – it has been too long a time!
Underneath the terrace, and inside the grandstand, it is all a touch bittersweet to an old romantic like me.
The overwhelming feeling is one of excitement and optimism about how quickly things are now moving, and what the future will look like, but I must say that it is also just a bit sad looking at the old gal in her current state.
One remarkable thing that I saw yesterday was in the old Board Room, which has been gutted, internal walls and all. The removal of the partition wall between the Board Room and the back of the stand has exposed old cladding and window frames which were simply walled over when the Board Room extension was added years ago. Just amazing to see.
Other developments. Prompted by the complaints of excessive glare that our new bank of floodlights was causing to supporters, we have now completed a comprehensive review of the full floodlighting system.
This has resulted in our Board of Directors authorising – above and beyond the scope and budget of the development project, I should add – a full refurbishment and upgrade of our floodlighting system. It will be happening soon, too, so look out for a brighter pitch with less glare in the coming month or so.
Off on a bit of a tangent, it is interesting – fascinating, in fact – being a fan working at the heart of our club, where I see this type of stadium spend going largely unnoticed by my fellow fans, yet it accounts for hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.
The fact that I am responsible for the majority of this spend doesn’t go unnoticed by the Chief Exec, by the way.
Anyway, back to the project.
Our TV gantry, which has hung off the edge of the Directors’ Box for an eternity, must move. With the increase in rake of the Mayflower terrace, it physically cannot fit there any more.
We had planned to move it to its new home in the next close season. However, for a number of project programme reasons, it looks like we are going to have to consider this far earlier.
There are 101 people and organisations that we need to consult with to make this happen – the EFL; broadcasters; camera experts; the Safety Advisory Group; planning officers; and building regulation experts to name a few – so it will not happen immediately, but as soon as we have a signed-off location and plan, I will let you know.
So once again, ladies and gents, my report reads: lots done, lots and lots to do.
Keep It Green.