On this day: Pompey unveil ambitious new stadium plans

An artists impression of Pompey's proposed stadium to be build at The Hard
An artists impression of Pompey's proposed stadium to be build at The Hard
Pompey fans. Picture: Joe Pepler

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On this day 11 years ago, Pompey unveiled their ambitious plans for a new £600m stadium.

On April 24, 2007, the Blues revealed designs for a 36,000-seater stadium - almost double Fratton Park's capacity - to relocate to The Hard.

The plans were to build the new ground to rise out of the water next to Portsmouth Harbour train station.

Here is former chief sports writer Mark Storey's report in The News...

Pompey had one particular demand for the architects of their new stadium: Make it like Fratton Park.

That didn’t mean building another Milton end.

But it did mean retaining the atmosphere and intensity of the most passion-filled ground in the country.

To transport what makes Fratton Park special into their new waterfront home. Pompey’s new stadium may be extraordinarily ambitious, rising out of the water next to Portsmouth Harbour station and cocooned on three sides by plush apartments.

It may have a 36,000 capacity, almost double Fratton Park’s.

But, with its two-tier stands, it will have the same closeness to the pitch that makes their current ground a one-off in the Premiership.

That desire to retain the feel of Fratton Park informed Pompey’s choice of capacity.

The club are convinced they can fill 36,000 seats – even though Fratton holds just a shade more than 20,000.

Pompey’s enormous fan base supports the thinking.

And so do the examples of all the clubs who have moved to new stadiums, from Coventry and Leicester to Derby, Middlesbrough and Reading.

In all cases, a bigger ground with better facilities has attracted larger crowds.

The trick is to avoid making the new stadium too big, as Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie explained.

He said: ‘We feel we can fill 36,000. But we didn’t want the stadium any bigger.

‘One of the great things about Fratton Park in the Premiership is that it’s always full.

‘And we wanted to retain that rather than have a 50,000 ground and risk having empty seats.

‘That’s because it’s vital to us to retain the unique atmosphere of Fratton Park.

‘That was one of the first things we said to the architects.’

Ben Duckworth, associate with Swiss-based architects Herzon & de Meuron, said: ‘We wanted to keep the close correlation between the stands and pitch that exists at Fratton Park now.

‘If you have a stadium any bigger than 36,000, you start to lose that sense of closeness, because you need three tiers.’

One huge departure from Fratton Park, however, will be corporate boxes.

Pompey have none now, so the 80 planned for their new home will bring in masses of extra revenue.

In all, there will be around 3,000 corporate seats.

But that will be balanced by a large family section which will offer the best-value tickets in the ground.

Storrie said: ‘The future of this club is our young supporters, so the stadium will include a big family enclosure holding around 3,000, with cheaper tickets.’

Under Premiership rules, a maximum of 3,000 seats will go to away fans.

The unconventional location of Pompey’s proposed new stadium arose after Storrie approached Barry Ostler, Sellar Property Group’s development director, to help search for alternative sites to Fratton Park.

Under former chairman Milan Mandaric, Pompey were seeking to redevelop Fratton Park by turning it 90 degrees.

But Pompey wondered if there was a better solution.

Ostler said: ‘Peter wanted to find out if there was a better opportunity than developing Fratton Park, and asked us to come up with alternatives.

‘We didn’t want to be associated with a ready-mixed-concrete stadium next to a motorway junction.

‘This is a stadium designed by cutting-edge architects – a world-class stadium to transform the club and the waterfront.

‘We believe this will transform Portsmouth into a European city.’

Storrie said: ‘This is our fourth Premiership season and we’re becoming an established top-flight side.

‘We want to take the club forward on and off the field.

‘We’re talking about this stadium helping put the city on the map in Europe – and hopefully we’ll be playing European football in it on a regular basis.

‘We looked at other sites. But the one thing we got from supporters was that they wanted the ground to stay on Portsea Island.

‘This stadium is something sensational to blow people’s minds.’

Pompey fan Mark Mudie said: ‘It’s stunning – more incredible than anything I expected.’