DID you ask a question about the new Home Park Grandstand?If so, here is your answer.
Back in March, we asked supporters to give us their say on the plans for a new Grandstand at Home Park - which is part of a £50m regeneration plan that will transform Higher Home Park into a sporting and leisure destination unrivalled in the South West.
Questions were submitted via the club, the Higher Home Park Development website, a meeting of the Plymouth Argyle Supporters board and through online fans' forum Pasoti.
Over the past few months, Argyle chairman and owner James Brent, along with representatives from the Akkeron Group, have gone through the questions to provide fans with all of the answers that they require.
Please scroll down for the completed question and answers.
Answers to PASB Questions
Q1. Can you indicate what the key criteria were in choosing the selected option?
To build the best facility for Argyle possible within the financial, planning and land constraints we faced. Focus on a facility which will provide good quality accommodation today and additional revenue to enable PAFC to progress back up the leagues rather than to maximise capacity that is unlikely to be required in the short/medium term.
Q2. When will building of the new stand begin and when is it projected to be finished?
Our planning application was submitted at the end of May. Assuming all goes well with the application we would hope to begin works on site at the end of September this year, with the new grandstand completed in December 2014, and the remainder of the project completed in September 2015. The timetable is incredibly tight and there is risk of some slippage but we will do our best to achieve these targets.
Q3. Will the gap between the Grandstand and Barn Park stand remain, or is some other development planned there?
We have included space in our proposals for an additional facility. Assuming built, the net benefit of this facility (i.e. after development costs) will be received by PAFC.
Q4. Will there be a transparent roof to allow the grass to grown better?
One third of the grandstand roof will be transparent to allow for grass growth. We have taken advice and this is deemed sufficient.
Q5. Has solar power been considered?
Solar power has been considered for the overall project. As part of our commitment to sustainable energies, amongst other things we are proposing to install a bank of photo-voltaic cells on the Ice Arena roof, as this has the best location and angle to achieve maximum efficiency from the pv cells. There are a whole series of other ‘green technologies’ being applied in the scheme, e.g. rain collection for irrigation, a combined heat and power facility for more efficient energy consumption and utilisation of the excess heat produced from the ice arena to heat other facilities.
Q6. Where will the floodlights be?
The location of the floodlights will be determined as part of the next phase of detailed design.
Q7. Is there the potential to develop new facilities such as conferencing facilities, in the future?
The proposal includes extensive conferencing, banqueting and hospitality facilities. These are in our view high quality and more than sufficient to cater to Championship level.
Q8. Why can't the development spread into Cottage Field? It is zoned for development in the Central Park Action Plan.
Whilst Cottage Field is indeed under CP01 planning policy we believe it is appropriate to minimise the impact of development on green space. Moreover, we have been advised that any development on Cottage Field would not be well received by either the public or Plymouth City Council who are not only the planning authority but the owner of Cottage Field. Once we have completed our development, the ambitions of CP01 and CP02, namely to create a sporting and leisure hub for the city, adjacent to Central Park, will have been met and we will petition Plymouth City Council for the removal of Cottage Field from the Area Action Plan which is the framework of planning policy for the City.
Q9. What is it about the new stand design that makes it 'uniquely Plymouth Argyle' in your opinion?
The grandstand design and setting of the stadium are different to the other stadia we have seen. The supporting truss that spans the length of the stand sets the new grandstand apart from the other stands in the horseshoe, and provides an iconic element to the stadium. In addition to this, we propose to run a competition to design a feature which will set Home Park aside from all other stadia.
Q10. I'm concerned about using the Lyndhurst and Barn Park outer concourse as road access to the underground car-park. Do you have a plan B?
We have worked with our design team, Plymouth City Council, our highways consultants and pedestrian modelling consultants who have all confirmed that the concourse is suitable as an access road. When it is not safe to use the concourse due to crowd numbers (which may be the case on match days), the concourse will be closed to traffic. This will be the decision of the Stadium Safety Manager based on the advice of the emergency services. Users of the underground car park will be able to enter and leave the site via an alternative route during this time.
Our design team and engineers have looked at how additional seating could be added to the horseshoe and this can be achieved with traffic management on the concourse road.
Q11. Do you expect on match days all Plymouth Argyle fans, visitors to the Higher Home Park development and the Life Centre to use the existing Park & Ride car-park?
There will be 380 parking spaces in the basement of the development. The traffic assessment shows that this will be adequate for the parking generated by the new facilities on a day-to-day basis. On matchdays we expect that visitors and fans will use the Higher Home Park car park, Life Centre Car Park and Park & Ride Car Park, much as is the current situation.
Q12. Are there enough Park & Ride car-park spaces so that there is not a negative impact on residential parking in the vicinity of Central Park, and what plans are there in place for access to and from the Park & Ride car-park from an already busy Outland Road?
Please see above. The average forecast net increase in traffic numbers on Outland Road is 3%. The junction off of Outland Road to the north of the site will be re-ordered to allow the additional anticipated cars into the new development, whilst not having a detrimental effect on Outland Road itself.
Q13. Have your development team thought that the Devonport End might be a better place for the hotel development similar to the DeVeres Hotel in the Reebok, which has same number of rooms as HHP proposal? This would remove a large proportion of traffic for the new access road with possibility that remaining service vehicles could access to an entrance to the underground car park located at right end of development.
The number of forecast traffic movements for the hotel are not significant. We have considered a number of options. Any building unrelated to PAFC located on the Devonport end would restrict any opportunity to extend or expand in the future. The design team, upon considering a number of options, felt that the Hotel location as shown on the plans was the most appropriate.
Q14. It has been said that the revenue from only one, possibly two, of the outward facing units would not go to the club. Is this still the case? Where will the revenue go?
It has always been the case that Argyle will receive the income from conferencing, banqueting and hospitality (and clearly the club shop). It has never been the case that the club will receive the income from 3rd party retail. The income from the shops will be effectively sold off as a contribution towards the c.£10m development costs of the new stadium.
Q15. We were told the football club would get all revenue from its current footprint. It now appears a lot of space behind the current Mayflower stand is now part of the retail development. Do you think that is a significant variation to the original intent, particularly if, in addition, revenue from some of the units beneath the new stand will not go to the football club?
That has never been stated by or on behalf of the board or the developer. Please see A14 above.
Q16. Will PAFC either own/gain rent/percentage of sales from these units?
Please see A14 above. PAFC receives the benefit by it contributing to the development cost of the new grandstand.
Q17. What proportion of income from HHP retail, the Akkeron hotel, the cinema, the ice rink and the restaurants will go to the club?
In terms of revenue income, PAFC will receive the income from conferencing, banqueting and hospitality (and clearly the club shop). This has always been the case. PAFC benefits indirectly from all the other assets since these are what produce the capital sum that funds the new grandstand.
Q18. Has the revenue potential for each facility been forecast, and what are these estimations?
The additional stabilised net income (i.e. pre-tax profit) that PAFC will receive from the grandstand is estaimated at c.£1m in League 2. This comes from increased match income, hospitality, sponsorship and retail. The amount is forecast to increase as the club progresses back up the leagues.
Q19. What is the realistic non-match day revenue the football club can expect to earn from the finished grandstand and how does this compare to current levels?
Please see A18.
Q20. What is the budgeted income from match days and non-match day functions from the new facilities?
Please see A18.
Q21. Will the additional revenue streams enable the club to be self-financing, sustainable and competitive up to Championship level as a minimum?
It will certainly make Argyle materially more sustainable and the belief is that with the new Grandstand, PAFC can be a sustainable championship club.
Q22. Will a percentage of the money made from the additional revenue streams be re-invested into the playing squad or facilities that will directly benefit the on-pitch success of the club?
Yes. As well as providing high quality facilities to our fans, the additional net income from the facilities will be invested in the club.
Q23. Would you not agree that top-notch football facilities would be better suited to a football club, as opposed to top-notch hotel facilities?
In our view the new grandstand is top-notch. It is funded by the building of top-notch leisure and sporting facilities that can be used both by fans and by other Plymothians and visitors to the city. A win-win we believe.
Q24. Is the hotel going to be Akkeron owned? If so are you planning on doing any schemes where people shall get discount on the hotel with a ticket to the game?
The hotel will not be owned by Akkeron. It may or may not be operated by the company. In any event, we would expect a close working relationship between the club and the operators of all the facilities at Higher Home Park.
Q25. How many hotel rooms will over-look the pitch (like at Carrow Road)?
All of the proposed Hotel’s rooms will look out on to Central Park rather than back in to Home Park.
Q26. Is there the option to turn hospitality boxes into hotel rooms?
We don’t think this would be practical. These boxes are however expected to be used as meeting rooms and for hospitality on non-match days.
Q27. Confirm that the football club, just out of administration and requiring cash injections or interest free loans to remain viable, would be unable to obtain any funding at all for the commercial development and the cost of building a grandstand. Hence the need for a separate commercial partner.
We have not tested this thesis but believe you are correct. In any event, we don’t believe it appropriate for the club to take development risk. Development costs were one (but not the main) reason why PAFC went into administration.
Q28. Confirm that the commercial partner has already paid full open market value for the Higher Home Park land to the football club at an independently determined open market value of £465,000 - could you say whether any of that money went to paying off, in advance, any of the football creditor debt including the staff?
The purchaser of the land paid the full value as determined by the district valuer. Based on current financial projections, it will make no profit on the land. All proceeds from the sale have been utilised in funding PAFC.
Q29. Confirm that there is no contractual requirement, as part of the original purchase of the Higher Home Park land and the lease of Home Park with the Council, to build a grandstand on the land leased from the Council.
There is an obligation to build a new grandstand if we proceed with the development. The new grandstand was to have a minimum of 3,800 seats (i.e. c.1,000 fewer than we have proposed) and there is no obligation to provide additional facilities. The cost of merely complying with our contractual obligations would have been roughly one third of the anticipated cost of the new grandstand.
Q30. Confirm that, in most commercial developments a lender will require a minimum return (profit) of at least 20% (to safeguard against any fall in market value among other things) before considering providing funding for a commercial development. With a reported overall development value of £50m of which the grandstand represents £10m in effect, in general terms, any profit from the commercial development provides the funding for the grandstand. As a result the overall development is at best cost neutral and suggestions that a significant profit will still remain from the development and be returned to Akkeron may be unfounded.
Developments normally require a profit of c.20%. Any profit from the development (after the cost of the grandstand) will fall materially short of this. In other words this scheme would not in our view be undertaken by a developer who did not have an interest in enhancing Argyle.
Q31. Confirm that the orientation and access arrangements for the Life Centre approved by the City Council, without due regard for the future development of Higher Home Park, have imposed additional costs upon the development and an access solution to the car park that may severely impede or even prevent additional capacity being constructed in the Lyndhurst and Barn Park stands. As a result a full and proper evaluation of how the capacity may be extended and at what cost is being fully investigated and the outcome will be fully reported.
Neither we nor Plymouth City Council believe that the original access contemplated (between the Life Centre and Central Park) is the best solution. Tunneling under this access is unfortunately not viable. We have worked out a plan as to how 2,500 additional seats could be added to the horseshoe with minimal disruption and at an economic cost. Expansion beyond this is possible but more complex and expensive.
Q32. Confirm that the City Council, as part of its commitment to improving Central Park, has requested improvements to the Park from the developer of around £1m as part of the overall development cost.
We can confirm the figure is c.£1.1m. This is in addition to significant costs on junction and road improvements to Outland Road and the access road.
Q33. Confirm that in the end the most successful outcome for the City, the City Council, the supporters and the football club will be a careful balance between all interests and that will be determined by the amount of commercial funding that is reasonably available. The balance of those interests will be achieved by a series of compromises by all parties in the realisation that all aspirations may not be fully met. Whether that balance can be achieved as a result of a full reassessment of the proposals as they stand will be the subject further consultation, revision and negotiation.
Agree with the principle that the successful outcome required compromise from all. We have submitted a planning application which seeks to achieve this balance.
Q34. Has every avenue been explored as far as additional funding is concerned? Does granting naming rights, for instance, produce significant or negligible cash relative to the additional costs of a larger structure?
We are looking at naming rights and similar. The benefits of any such rights will go to the club to invest in the team. We did not try to work out whether the incremental cost of a materially larger grandstand would be offset by a larger receipt from naming rights but we are confident that this would not be the case.
Q35.Could you please give the figures of the total seating capacity at the stadium now and also the total capacity in the stadium when the grandstand is complete?
The current capacity of the stadium is 16,388. We are proposing a 4,800 seater grandstand, taking capacity to 17,611.
Q36. You spoke about a “state of the art Grandstand with a capacity of 20K that we would all be proud of”. What changed your mind?
I have not changed my mind; this remains the ambition. For reasons of affordability, however, 2,500 seats will be deferred until they are needed on a sustainable basis.
Q37. Would it be out of the question for you to commit to incorporating the five-row expansion to the horseshoe, thus adding around 2,500 to the capacity of that area, and consequently providing a product very much in keeping with your original vision and stated intention?
Our advisors have reviewed the proposed new seats in the horseshoe and have advised that these seats can be added practically and economically at a future date. The intention is to add these additional seats when there is sustainable demand for them (i.e. it makes sense for the club: the pay back is c.2 years).
Q38. Will the new stand be able to be expanded if we find ourselves in a higher league with the need for more seats?
The new grandstand proposal is Phase I of the proposed expansion of the ground. When the sustained need for additional seats arises we can implement Phase II which would incorporate new seating in to the existing horseshoe structure. Please see A37 above.
Q39. Do you agree with the assertion that any future additional capacity requirements would be impossible both economically and structurally?
No, this assertion is not true. Please see A37 above. Our structural engineers have reviewed the existing structure and foundations along with the original plans, and have confirmed that it will be structurally possible and economically feasible to add additional seating as and when it is required.
Q40. Do the current plans for the grandstand create an unwelcome constriction to future growth, beyond what is needed now, or for the next few years, while we remain in James Brent ownership?
Based on recent history, the proposed capacity together with that which can be added simply and economically, is sufficient for Argyle to compete at the top of the Championship. It would not be sufficient for Argyle if it was sustainably in the Premier League. There are options then, but these are more complex and expensive and have not been fully analysed.
Q41. To James Brent: If you were a potential future owner of Argyle, would you see the current plans for the stadium as advantageous and helpful for a bid for Premiership status, or would you recognise that the limitations on stadium expansion would make us a less attractive proposition?
Please see A40 above. With the new grandstand I would see Argyle, trading at the top of the Championship, as a very exciting proposition. This would not be the view I would take of Argyle with the current Mayflower stand in League 2!
Q42. Also, can you explain why the single tier option was then changed so rapidly after the initial response to the proposal - was the original criteria flawed or merely changed to appease the fans by adding five rows to an upper tier?
The purpose of a public consultation is to inform stakeholders as to progress on designs to date, to hear comments and questions and to act upon them.It became clear from the consultation early on that a number of fans were not keen on a single tier grandstand. The professional team was instructed to come up with a deliverable plan rapidly – and they did that. I think it is wholly appropriate that we responded to fans concerns as best we were able.
Q43. Can the stand be increased in height to give possibly an extra 10 rows of seats in the top tier? Can an additional level be added to the whole development? If that was the case, then the building in the corner between the stand and the Devonport End could be moved elsewhere and the corners could be in filled with seating and the additional cost funded by the increase in retail space in the extra level.
We do not believe it is affordable or practical to add additional layers to the grandstand. The AFT Working Group came up with a plan to increase the Grandstand capacity to c.7,000. The Working Group put significant thought and effort into this but, when allowances are made for safety regulations and hospitality needs, the cost was prohibitive. We are looking at increasing seat density which could increase the proposed capacity.
Q44. Is the density of seats the same as the rest of the ground, if not why not?
It is currently lower. To standardise across the stadium would add c.200 seats to the Grandstand in theory, although this would affect stair tread heights, safety requirements and toilet provision, leading to an increase in costs. There is a range of seat widths in the grandstand, including a minimum 460mm for general and 500mm for hospitality. This is in line with the ‘Green Guide’ (Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds).
Q45. How do you react to present criticism that the grandstand proposals appear to be the cheapest and smallest design possible, and that the grandstand redevelopment is an afterthought to the clear priority of building a hotel, ice rink and cinema?
This is unfair and demonstrably untrue. The contractual commitment to Plymouth City Council was to build a Grandstand with 3,800 seats; the proposed Grandstand not only has 25% more capacity but has extensive banqueting, conferencing and hospitality facilities.
Q46. Why do you think it is acceptable to build an ice rink in a position where it means that this grandstand will never be extended, should we need to?
The planned expansion of the stadium will be achieved in the horseshoe, not in the Grandstand. Please see A37.
Q47. Does Plymouth need an IMAX when it already has a VUE and an Odeon?
Plymouth has only one multiplex (the Vue at the Barbican). The Vue is one of the most heavily used cinemas in the country and the consensus is that another multiplex is needed in the city. The Odeon IMAX will be the only one within c.150 miles, enhancing Plymouth’s credentials as the sporting, leisure and cultural destination in the South West.
Q48. How do you respond to the criticism that these plans display a clear lack of ambition for the club considering the similar positions of our peers such as Swansea, Brighton etc when they built their new grounds?
They don’t show a lack of ambition; unlike Swansea and Brighton they do not provide Premier League capacity. It is my genuine belief that if we focus on our dreams and not on what we can deliver now, our dreams will be no more than dreams in 10 years time.
Q49. From whom did you take advice when determining the capacity of the stadium?
We took advice from a variety of people: professional advisors, club executive, fans, other clubs.
Q50. As a supporter who has spent his Argyle life sat in the Lyndhurst, will I have access to the facilities within the new grandstand or will I have to switch to a grandstand seat?
Most of the facilities in the Grandstand are behind the turnstiles so it will unfortunately not be possible to access these on match days with a Lyndhurst ticket.
Q51. The present plans for the overall development do appear to have compromised on facilities to allow for retail opportunities between the stand and ice rink. Was this a criteria of the project brief to architects as, given the limited space, it would appear more logical to build some of other development facilities into the stand structure allowing it to have larger capacity?
The instructions to the development team were to provide for the best facility we could deliver. They have delivered a Grandstand design which increases capacity to a level which would enable us to compete up to Championship. The team has looked at the viability (economic and practical) of adding a further 2,500 seats to the horseshoe; this can be achieved taking capacity to over 20,000 – sufficient for us competing at the top of the Championship. The stadium would not in our view support a sustained run in the Premier League. We see this as being a high quality problem; there are more radical solutions available in this scenario but they have not been fully analysed.
Q52. Which other architect groups were asked for their proposals to the Project Design Brief?
Typically on any project at least three architecture firms would be considered based on their expertise not only in relation to stadium design but also masterplanning, retail, ice arenas, cinema and landscape design. The development team believe that BDP must closely matched the requirements of the brief.
Q53. The plans for the new stand appear to show that the new tier of 920 seats will only be accessible from the corporate suite. If this is the case will the 600 seats in front of corporate boxes allocated to hospitality be released back into general sale, otherwise there will only be 3,500 general sale seats in the proposed stand.
The upper tier is accessible via the stair cases to the rear of the stand. There will need to be stewards at each level to ensure spectators enter the correct level but at present I see no reason why general sale tickets would not be available for the upper tier.
Q54. Why do you feel that Argyle should build an inferior stadium to other teams of similar stature and potential? Do you not agree it is likely to put a serious dent in any future ambitions?
Please see A48 above.
GREEN TAVERNERS/FANS BAR
Q55. Will the new grandstand have a Far Post Club?
We have a Far Post Lounge overlooking the pitch. The hospitality in this lounge will be materially enhanced from the current Far Post offering. The detail has yet to be worked out; the club will consult with Far Post members.
Q56. Will there be provision for the GT's functions and for the Senior Greens to use a facility within the new grandstand, for example a function room?
There are extensive function rooms and hospitality suites within the Grandstand and these would of course be made available to friends of Argyle and others. We are in discussions with the GTs on facilities for the Fanfest both during the build period and thereafter. Details will be announced by the club and the GTs in due course.
Q57. Can the Fansfest be accommodated within the stand?
We are in discussions with the GTs on facilities for the Fanfest both during the build period and thereafter. Details will be announced by the club and the GTs in due course.
IMAGES ON SEATS
Q58. Will there be any 'text' on the grandstand seats? Or a legendary player's face or the club's badge built into the seating in the new grandstand?
We have not discussed this level of detail. It is one of several interesting ideas that have been raised with us and which we propose to develop in the next phase.
Q59. How expensive are the costs of a potential future re-development of the horseshoe compared to the costs of the grandstand. How likely are any of these horseshoe developments to take place if we are promoted?
The cost of the additional 2,500 seats in the horseshoe has been estimated at £1,000 per seat or £2.5m. The cost of the seats in the Grandstand are roughly twice this level (i.e. £2,000 per seat) but this is misleading since the Grandstand costs include significant player, hospitality and conferencing facilities. The horseshoe seats can be added relatively quickly and simply with much of the work pre-fabricated off-site.
It makes sense to add these seats as soon as there is sustainable demand for them. Achieving an average yield (not just ticket prices but also additional retail and food and beverage sales) of £500 per seat would pay back the investment in just two years.
Q60. Has any work gone into future expansion planning should we regain our Championship position?
Detailed work has gone into working out how we would add a further 2,500 seats to the horseshoe – please see A59 above. This enhanced capacity (>20,000 in total) would in our view be sufficient to compete at the top end of the Championship. There are (more complex/expensive) options available to expand beyond this but we have not carried out detailed work on these to date.
Q61. How can Argyle expand the ground in the future? In order to get a ground with Premier League capacity, would need to move out of Home Park?
Please see A60 above. There is potential to expand the stadium at Home Park to a level that would support Argyle as a Premier League club although detailed work has not been done on this to date.
Q62. How much would it cost to put the 2500 seats around the horse shoe?
Estimated at £1,000 per seat or £2.5m (including infrastructure).
Q63. How much would it cost to further expand the horse shoe by the 2000 extra seats?
This requires significant more infrastructure and facilities and is estimated at £2,000 per seat.
Q64. How much would it cost to demolish the Devonport End and build a bigger stand?
This is slightly ‘how long is a piece of string?’ since it will clearly depend on the number of seats, the configuration and the extent and quality of the facilities. If we assume that there is no corporate hospitality etc and we are merely replicating the facilities in the Devonport (but clearly new and scaled up), £1,000 per seat is a reasonable estimate.
Q65. Given the cost of redeveloping the Devonport, the loss of income whilst it is closed during construction and the general disruption to all businesses in that area, would you agree that it is highly unlikely you would ever expand that stand in the future?
If as we hope and plan we get back to winning ways in the Championship and we can sustainably fill the additional seats, we do expect to build the additional 2,500 seats in the horseshoe. There are options to materially expand the capacity of the stadium if we got in to the Premier League and these would be reviewed closer to that time.
Q66. Has consideration been given to lowering the pitch to create additional seating at the front?
Lowering the pitch would be a substantial piece of infrastructure work, at significant cost. This would also lead to a substantial amount of cut, which would need to be moved off site, again at a significant cost. The benefit of this (that is, additional seats) is very unlikely to balance out the cost and massive disruption involved.
Q67. How much will you spend on the Mayflower Grandstand development, in terms of the buildings that belong to the club?
The Stadium is owned by Plymouth City Council and leased to Plymouth Argyle Football Club. The cost of the new Grandstand is c.£10m.
Q68. How much does your company and its subsidiaries stand to make in delivering this project for Plymouth City Council?
Plymouth City Council’s freehold interest is primarily the stadium and a small piece of land around it. The development on this land makes a significant loss to the developer. The profit on the overall development falls far short of what would be acceptable to an ‘arms-length’ developer.
Q69. Do you think there are any vested interests on acting as chairman of the football club during this process, when the smaller the stand design for Plymouth Argyle, the larger profit on the bottom line for your company Akkeron?
I own a slightly higher percentage of the club than I do of the developer. Surely, if there was a conflict I would prefer the club where I own more? As noted in A68 above, the development does not provide a commercial return to the developer. If I did not own Argyle, I would not undertake this development.
Q70. There is a rumour, surrounding the Akkeron board, that as the development is expensive you are willing to cut back on Argyle so that the other developments can be built to the required standard. Could you please confirm or deny the rumour?
I can confirm that this is untrue. It is true that the overall development needs to be viable (even though it is not a deal that any developer would do if not connected to Argyle) but we are doing the best for the club that we are able.
NAMING RIGHTS/STYLE OF GRANDSTAND
Q71. Is the grandstand going to be called The Mayflower?
The full name has yet to be agreed. I think it is inconceivable however that we would drop ‘Mayflower’ from it, particularly given the approach of the 2020 celebrations of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth to found modern America.
Q72. Is there any way in which the style/design of the old iconic turnstiles could somehow be incorporated into the new grandstand roof?
We are considering how we can best incorporate the turnstiles into the new development. It has been suggested by a number of fans that they could become part of the memorial garden, which is something we are actively looking in to.
Q73. The Memorial Garden looks like it is 'dumped' out the back of the ground, as an after-thought. Also this end of the ground being the Away end, I fear it may be desecrated by a few mindless away supporters.
The location of the memorial garden has been proposed within Zoo Field as this could be an area of quiet and reflection. It is certainly not an afterthought. The design of the garden mimics the dimensions of the centre spot of a football pitch, with the potential to incorporate memorial bricks within the walls of the garden with seating and planting. We expect Plymouth City Council to consult widely on this. We have discussed the risk of desecration and do not believe it to be high (there are comparable memorials with other clubs that experience greater trouble) although we may review security for higher risk matches.
Q74. Many Argyle supporters have mentioned using the Facade/Turnstiles as an entrance to the Memorial Garden. Would you consider this idea and save a link with the history of the club?
Several supporters have indeed suggested using the turnstiles within the memorial garden and this is something we are actively looking at. We are also considering whether it would be possible to incorporate the facade of the current turnstiles in some way. This part of the design could be the basis of a supporter’s working group alongside Plymouth City Council and Akkeron at a later stage.
Q75. Why does the Memorial Garden appears to be in two different places (on the plans).
The exact location of the memorial garden is open to debate and we have shown it in different locations to gauge people’s preferences.
Q76. Will there be an Argyle Museum?
The club is currently reviewing how we display the history of our club in a way that gives good and high quality access to our fans and visitors. More on this to follow.
Q77. Has the stadium been designed with broadcast ease in mind?
The design has been based on the requirements of the League with the benefit of advice from our Comms team. The media facilities are greatly enhanced.
Q78. Is there time or scope to change the plans as they stand currently?
The planning application has been submitted after extensive consultation. We have tried to reflect the feedback of fans as best we are able without compromising deliverability.
Q79. Will the lighting/CCTV/security in the area be improved?
Yes, lighting, CCTV and Security in the new Grandstand will be better than the old.
Q80. Are there any plans in mind to ensure all requiring fans can SWIFTLY buy drink and food in the 15 minutes of half-time without missing any football? Can we look forward to not having long slow queues?
The new catering facilities meet all the best practice recommendations for newly built facilities. We hope that this, combined with new equipment, will materially improve the fans’ experience. Q81. Will anything be done to improve ticketing &and getting fans into the ground quicker than currently?
The principal ticketing facilities will be integrated with the Club Shop and we are confident are adequate for the immediate capacity and when additional seats are added in the horseshoe. The turnstiles in the new Grandstand meet the recommendations for new facilities and we are proposing adding additional turnstiles and new technology to the horseshoe. Q82. Is there a bus stop and will there be free buses?
There is an existing bus stop on Outland Road in line with the stadium and another between Outland Road and Home Park, behind the Life Centre. We believe this gives sufficient links to public transport. Two of our sponsors – FIL and Target Travel – have generously subsidised a number of Argyle Specials. Q83. Is a new sound system for the ground included?
The sound system is being reviewed.
Q84. Why does the Players' Lounge not have a view of the pitch?
The Player's Lounge location is based on discussions with the club and Grandstand Working Group. The exact orientation and layout of the Player's Lounge can be further determined during the detailed design phase
Q85. Much of the Akkeron development will be on land currently owned by PCC and currently leased to the football club, how will this be dealt with? Will it be leased to Akkeron? If so will that reduce the lease payment for the football club. Or will the land be sold to Akkeron, if so for how much?
Details of the proposed land transactions will be published shortly. These create benefit for both Argyle and ratepayers in Plymouth.
Q86. Why are there no baby changing facilities on the hospitality suites?
There is no reason why the disabled accessible toilets cannot be combined with baby changing facilities. This will be addressed during the detailed design phase following the planning process.
Q87. Will the ground be used, close season, for live music events?
That is the plan, although football matters (e.g. pitch preparation) and fixtures will take precedence and this will clearly limit the number and timing of events.
Q88. Are there any plans to upgrade the training facilities?
Improvements to the training pitches will continue. Additional facilities are being reviewed.
Q89. Have the club considered developing the Cottage Field site for a modern, well equipped gym which the public could access when the squad are not using, as part of the membership of the club and an additional revenue stream for the football operation?
We believe that Cottage Field should be retained as green space (and materially improved) as a community football pitch. This view is also held by Plymouth City Council who are the owners of Cottage Field. We have agreed with Plymouth City Council that Akkeron will make these improvements as part of our ‘s.106’ obligations.
Q90. In December, you formally backed the campaign for safe standing at English football matches. Should the need arise to increase capacity in the future, is this still an option you are willing to consider?
Yes, absolutely. We have re-affirmed our support for safe standing subject to four conditions: it being safe for our supporters, wanted by our supporters, lawful and affordable.
Q91. Given all that has been said in the last year about the importance of the PASB as an authentic, legitimate representative body to provide supervision and transparency on issues that directly affect the fanbase, can you explain why it appears that neither the stadium development plans, nor the season-ticket pricing plan were discussed with that body before initial details were released into the public domain?
You are right about our aspirations for the PASB but the challenge sits in the last two lines of your question. Can we rely on the PASB to keep confidential information until it is appropriate to be released? We believe that the majority can be trusted but we recently responded to a PASB member’s question on the basis that all agreed to maintain confidentiality. Despite the agreement of those present, a PASB member intentionally leaked it for reasons that could not be justified by PAFC’s interest.
Q92. Will the new development incorporate a large electronic scoreboard?
Although not shown in the CGIs, this is the intention. Its’ position and content is still to be agreed.
Q93. Could you please consider an area for motor-cycle parking and either allow helmets to be taken into the ground or a better system than the current system of leaving an helmet in an unlocked cupboard at the main entrance.
We will look into this.
Q94. If the Green Army rejects the stadium plans as they are now, would you want any of your other developments in Plymouth to go ahead?
This is I believe a very hypothetical question. There has been a genuine wish by many fans for more capacity. We respect this view and we have dealt with it as best we are able. The substantial majority of feedback we have received has shared our excitement and been very supportive. The proposed development is generally perceived to be very beneficial to both Argyle and Plymouth.