Stamford Bridge: The next Bird’s Nest or Allianz Arena?

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho smiles during a news conference, ahead of Saturday's soccer celebration match against Thailand All-Stars as part of the team's post-season tour at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

According to the the Architects Journal, Chelsea Football Club have contacted Swiss architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron to increase the capacity of Stamford Bridge to around 60,000 seats. They were the minds behind the famous Allianz Arena in Munich and Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium. Currently, the capacity of Stamford Bridge is a mediocre 41,837 seats.

Earlier in June, Chelsea had announced that they would look into the possibility of expanding the capacity of the stadium, a move that looks to have finally been accepted by the Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Roman Abramovich commissioned the move, which could see the capacity of the stadium increase to an amazing 60,000 seats. This expansion would also help the club to comply with Financial Fair Play guidelines more easily.

Almost all European powerhouses like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and the like, have stadiums of at least 60,000 capacity. With Chelsea now firmly counted among the elite, it is imperative that it has a bigger stadium. With Jose Mourinho complaining about the lack of a proper atmosphere, the addition of around 20,000 fans seems a very plausible decision.

In the recent past, Chelsea had been looking at options to change their home stadium and shift to another location. Sites such as the famous Battersea Power Station, Earl’s Court and White City were all seen as potential addresses. However, the Chelsea Pitch Owners, the fan-owned company that owns the freehold of Stamford Bridge and also the naming rights of the club, have always resisted such a move. According to them, a move away from Stamford Bridge will mean the club could no longer be called Chelsea Football Club.

At present, OXO Tower designer Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and a London firm are overseeing the study regarding the stadium’s expansion. This may also bring about improvement in the public areas along the Fulham Road and the area around the stadium. The club has said that they also look at the possibility of creating “landscaped public walkways and cycleways while also reducing pedestrian traffic on Fulham Road and nearby streets on match days.”

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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni

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