Everton’s venture to build a brand new football stadium cleared its first obstacle today, after the club agreed to purchase land in North Liverpool at Bramley Moore Dock from Peel Waters.
A joint announcement by the club and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson confirmed the deal following months of rumours and speculation surrounding the potential project.
Everton Chief Executive, Robert Elstone, said: “Over the past year, the club has worked with the support of the council and we are grateful for the ‘can-do’ approach that has got us to this important milestone. We are particularly grateful for the role the Mayor has played to date in our talks with Peel and for his support in this important step in the journey towards reaching a funding solution for the stadium.
“We are delighted that we have been able to agree Heads of Terms with Peel, giving us control of the Bramley Moore Dock site and allowing us the time we need to complete the substantial further work required to be able to confirm the project’s viability.
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“We can now move forward into the next phase of work with much greater confidence. Clearly, it is vital we have clarity on cost and we have to recognise that the stadium will be significantly more expensive at Bramley Moore Dock.
“To get that certainty, and ensure the stadium is affordable, we need to confirm stadium design, capacity and configuration. And to do that, we need to talk to fans, partners and all stakeholders in the project. We’re committing to that consultation. We’re also committing to keep fans fully informed as the project develops and as other milestones are reached.”
Mayor Anderson said: “I’m delighted that we have got to a stage where the city and Everton can publicly share the vision for the club’s potential new home at Bramley Moore Dock.
“I understand that creating this financial arrangement is a small step in a long journey for the club, but it is the first step and for that reason it is a special moment in the city’s – and Everton’s – long illustrious history. If things progress as we all hope, it marks the beginnings of a new and exciting chapter.”
Everton fans are no strangers to new stadium plans, however, and more specifically including a dockside site.
Back in 2003 the football club’s dreams of building a brand new 55,000-seater structure on Liverpool’s King’s Dock came crashing down due to financial difficulties.
Next up was an ambitious proposal that could have seen the Toffees to move to Kirkby in 2006, as their arrival looked set to correspond with a wider regeneration scheme for the town. A scheme drawn up between Knowsley Council, Everton and major food retailer, Tesco, proposed the development of a superstore as well as a £400 million stadium holding more than 50,000 people, with provisions to expand the capacity.
However, those plans collapsed in 2009 when central government intervened and rejected the bid due to the potentially harmful effects on the affected communities.
More recently, Everton considered a switch to nearby Walton Hall Park as part of a regeneration scheme for the area, but that proved controversial and local objections were instrumental in the demise of the proposals.
Today’s announcement marks a new twist in the saga, and Toffees supporters will hope that the optimism expressed by the board and the council is matched by further commitments and genuine progress, with the matter of Liverpool’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games also a factor in the latest developments.
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