‘The Hatters’ venue plans facing COVID heat



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Luton Town new stadium update Sept. 2020 Image: Luton Town FC

In an online conference held with supporters recently, the Executive Director of Luton Town Football Club in England, Gary Sweet, has informed that changes are necessary to the design of the new residence of ‘The Hatters’ – the 23,000-capacity Power Court Stadium. Amended documentation should be filed within weeks.

The Luton Town Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Luton, Bedfordshire, England, that competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system.

Speaking to the Luton Town Supporters Trust’s virtual presentation evening recently, Sweet reassured supporters that their club continues to work on relocating to the new 23,000-seater at Power Court.

At the same time, Sweet was forced to comment that changes are required within ‘The Hatters’ plans in order for them to become viable once more. The issues have cropped up due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation which has led to the club facing fiscal pressures. The United Kingdom is in a tight spot as far as coronavirus cases are concerned.

Luton Town new stadium update Sept. 2020Image: Luton Town FC

“Clearly, the coronavirus scenario has led to a situation where we need to rethink. Human behaviors different today than what it was six months ago and that’s changed the markets. It’s not our will to change anything but the markets have changed. Demand for certain aspects that we’ve got planning for is just not there anymore. We have been rethinking how we can reshape that,” Sweet observed.

“There is a plan in place now, we’ve got meetings going on with the council where we are restructuring some of that, things that will become public in the not too distant future.” Sweet added.

In particular, changes are going to be implemented to the Newlands Park scheme, which is supposed to secure funding for the stadium itself. The Newlands Park envisages including a live event venue which would accommodate 1,800 spectators, as well as hotel, retail, catering, office space and numerous new homes. Much of the development belongs to sectors which has borne the major brunt of the COVID-19 situation, which means some uses may need to be replaced with others.

The 40-acre site Newlands Park scheme is among the most visible and prominent development sites in the UK, and was acquired by the Luton Town Football Club in the year 2015. The development proposals offer the opportunity to create a game-changing, iconic gateway to Luton, bringing in new business, complementing the town center and creating thousands of new jobs.

Sweet also informed fans that the stadium designs could undergo changes as well. And those would be changes downgrading it, even if slightly, to tighten the purse strings wherever possible. This would be initiated as the club has lost considerable amount of revenue since March this year and there seems faint hope of spectators returning to stadia in the next few weeks (the announced October return is to be reviewed).

“We may need to curtail some of the more desirable aspects of the stadium, just to squeeze that cost a little bit, moving forward but, ultimately, the supporters will still get what they’ve seen in the plans for the stadium, thereabouts. We’re quite excited with what we’re putting forward, with the view that, actually, we’re going to be putting something in place that is actually very deliverable,” Sweet observed.
 

Power Court Stadium

The Power Court complex is a new football stadium and mixed-use development planned in Newlands Park, Luton, UK.

The new stadium for Luton Town is likely to be built in Power Court, just 1.5 km (1 mile) east from Kenilworth Road. The area lies almost in the strict center of Luton and a stone’s throw away from public transportation.

Previously, there were industrial buildings on the Power Court site, but the area was cleared in 2015 to make way for major revitalization project. Luton Town hopes to make their 23,000-capacity stadium (initially planned for 17,500) part of that project. The stadium work has got delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hatters’ mixed use scheme at Newlands Park and the new stadium plans, both the developments were given the green light earlier this year.

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