Wolves in no hurry to revamp Molineux Stadium



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Wolverhapton Wanderers Stadium Image: thesun.co.uk

Wolverhampton Wanderers – the English professional football club based at Wolverhampton in United Kingdom – is contemplating on adding another temporary stand in their home ground – Molineux Stadium – as part of plans which could be in place for the start of next season.

A comprehensive plan of action to transform the residence of the Wolves’ into a huge stadium boasting 50,000 seats is in the pipeline, but remains on hold for now.

They are considering more than 10 short-term options to further enhance the fan experience – adding seats and updating the facilities such as the club’s corporate areas.

When it comes to generating match-day revenue, Wolves fall behind clubs like the 52,305-capacity Newcastle United and West Ham United which can pack in a crowd of 60,000.

They are treading cautiously to expand Molineux from its present 31,700 capacity.

The English Premier League football club continues to assess the ways in which it can meet the rising demand generated by its upward trajectory.

There has been a lot of buzz over the West Midlands club moving from the facility it has called home since 1889 or mulling expansion. Such reports have caught momentum ever since the club returned to the top of the heap last season. It is said that their season ticket waiting list is around 10,000 and the Molineux Stadium is always packed to capacity.

A temporary stand might come up in time for the 2020-21 seasons. This would be located between the Sir Jack Hayward and Steve Bull Stands, mirroring the current Graham Hughes Stand which is in place between the stand more commonly known as the South Bank and the Billy Wright Stand.

Media reports also stated that Wolves are in no tearing hurry to revamp its historic home and wants to go about the whole project step-by-step. They do not want to infuse a huge sum in a major revamp project which would only reap rewards in the long term.

In October last year, Wolves’ Head of Marketing, Russell Jones, admitted that the chances of redevelopment work starting at Molineux in May 2020 were thin, with plans to carry out the project “properly as opposed to quickly”.

The club had earlier evinced interest to start work on the Steve Bull Stand in 2020 with the redevelopment of the Sir Jack Hayward Stand to potentially begin in 2022. Speaking during Wolves’ fans’ parliament meeting, Jones explained that the three stands under consideration for redecoration work each have five phases to them. The rebuilding of the Steve Bull, Jack Hayward and Billy Wright Stands would expand the capacity of Molineux to 38,000, 43,000 and 50,000, respectively.

In May last year, the Wolves announced that it would set up a new barrier seating solution at its residence – a first for a Premier League club. This announcement followed the club’s declaration in January 2019 that it would pilot a section of seating options that could be used for safe standing should Government legislation on all-seater stadia change. The barrier seating was fully introduced earlier this season.

However, Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield said that the Council is not worried that Wolves will abandon their long-term vision to refurbish Molineux.

However, tearing down the dated Steve Bull Stand would have a massive impact on attendances and building behind it, as Liverpool did as part of the Anfield revamp, could prove tricky due to a lack of space.

Despite all hurdles, it seems the Wolves are firm on remaining at Molineux and slowly and steadily increasing the capacity of the venue to around 50,000. Club bosses are keen to cash in on the ever-growing demand to watch Wolves in action as tickets are selling like hot cakes.
 

‘Huge task’

Councilor Brookfield said the authority is ready to support the club where needed and that he is not aware of any plans on the part of Wolves to change course on the stadium revamp.

He stated, “We are working with Wolves to deliver a ground for the future. It is a big piece of land so there are many partners including the university. There are a lot of discussions and there is going to have to be a lot of money invested. We will work with Wolves to deliver what they are dreaming of. We want to do that because it will be a huge benefit to the city.”

The councilor further explained, “We’re not just looking at the stadium, it’s all the extra bits, hotels, shops and people living around it. It’s not just as easy as putting up the John Ireland Stand like they did in the late ‘70s, it’s a massive development.”

“We’re happy working with Jeff Shi and Fosun. There are definite plans to redevelop and redevelop in the city which is the most important thing. As far as I’m aware, Wolves are absolutely committed to the city, Molineux Stadium and the locality. A redevelopment of that size there is going to be hiccups along the way, I’m sure about it,” Brookfield averred.

Councilor Brookfield summed up, “If they went outside the city it wouldn’t be Wolves anymore. The club themselves know that.”

Council chiefs are also keen to do away with the subway near Molineux as part of plans to create a walkway to the ground from the city center.

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