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Home Park Progress

Blog 16 from Jon Back, Head of Stadium Redevelopment

15 June 2019

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IT is all happening in the development project.

Hi everyone – believe it or not, I make this blog number 16. I’ve managed to sneak a few days off in the sun over the past couple of weeks, so haven’t been at the Theatre of Greens in person, but a combination of the great pics from both our club photographer Dave Rowntree on our club website, and, of course, the remarkable Greens on Screen team have helped me to keep tabs on progress from afar.

Since I last wrote, we have made great strides. The Mayflower Grandstand has continued apace and, as I say to every single person that I take in to see it, the photos really do not do the scale of this great building due justice. Up close, the new, lower Mayflower stand – which alone will seat over 2,600 people – is really impressive, and the extended Grandstand roof above adds a real presence.

I’m sure that you will have seen that the construction of the lower stand is now all but complete. What you may not have noticed is that we have reconfigured and increased the viewing options and number of seats available for our fans with disabilities.

These changes, agreed with the help of PADSA, our great, critical friends at the Plymouth Argyle Disabled Supporters’ Association, will see wheelchair-users having an elevated platform in the ‘premium’ location at the rear of two blocks on the western-side (Devonport End) of the new stand as planned, but the platform to the eastern (Barn Park) side will now not be constructed, allowing the installation of a significant number of additional seats, the majority of which will be protected for people with disabilities who do not use wheelchairs, together with their friends, partners or carers.  We’re looking to see if we can squeeze in a small, covered pitch-side viewing area for wheelchair-users on the Mayflower side too, although I’m not yet certain if this is do-able.

Upstairs in the Grandstand, you may also have seen that a number of white seats have been installed.  As has been mentioned by quite a few people, these seats – and in particular the underneath side of the seat – appear to be an off-white colour.  The seats are actually described as ‘pure white’, although I am told by the industry experts that absolutely brilliant-white seats are subject to brittleness and are best avoided, hence the production of what should be seats of just the slightest of off-white colours.  That said, we are looking into this with our construction partners GLe UK (who are also the manufacturer and supplier of the seats).

In other news, we have now had formal handover of the new changing rooms.  I’m really pleased with how these have turned out – they feel spacious and modern. We are now completing an Argyle-specific fit-out before we make a grand reveal, which we will do in the near future. I know that you’ll be interested to know that our new gaffer has already scrutinised them, and we’ve incorporated a number of his design tweaks and changes to make sure that, as the new facility’s inaugural manager, it’s everything that he wants it to be. I would make some pun around having given him the Lowe-down, but I’ll leave that to better wordsmiths than myself…

Our fantastic new supporters’ bar is really taking shape now and with the issues regarding the roof and cladding having been resolved, Gary, Steve and the gang can crack on with the internals. I think I have said this before, but the views (particularly from the first floor) are just stupendous. Come mid-August, it will be a VERY desirable place to eat and drink, both on match-days and beyond.

Back to the Grandstand, where I’ve got some really good news to share about the upper concourse.  I’m delighted to say that the Board of Directors have agreed to fund a further extension to the upper concourse, which will now see an extended area out to the rear, situated to the Barn Park side of the old Boardroom.

As well as allowing for better circulation in an area that has always been a touch cramped, it will allow us to position one of the new toilet blocks in a better way, and also to set up a range of new match-day concessions, including food and beverage kiosks. This will really improve the upstairs environment for all fans, and I would like to place on record my thanks to our Board for seeing this vision and agreeing the additional expenditure. Having a Fan Focus is one of Argyle’s core values, and this is it, in action, in spades.

Looking forward, the action will be very visible – the cladding of the Grandstand is the main event for next few weeks or so. We need to get the old gal watertight before much more work can continue inside and, as such, we are looking with a tinge of nervousness at the weather – a small breeze at ground level can prove to be far too dangerous when it comes to lifting and affixing large cladding sheets when you’re sitting on top of the world.  So, weather, please note; still winds and no rain please – it is mid-June after all!

And beyond that – well, very soon, the close-season will come to an end and the lads will be back at work; yes indeed, it’s #AllSystemsLowe. Okay, at least I resisted until the end.

Getting exciting, isn’t it?

Keep it Green.

JB


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