Portsmouth finally unveil date for Milton End work to begin as Fratton Park redevelopment gathers pace
Work overhauling Fratton Park’s Milton End is to begin in the summer of 2023.
That will signal the final phase of Pompey’s £11.5m development project expected to be completed in time for the 2024-25 season.
Despite having received planning permission for the Milton End in August 2020, potential work had been shelved given the lack of infrastructure in and around the stadium.
However, with those discussions still ongoing, chairman Michael Eisner has now opted to go ahead with the project regardless.
That will introduce an extra 400 seats, including 18-23 disabled seats, creating a Milton End capacity of 3,200, although the stand will remain at the same height.
At present, health and safety issues are restricting the stand to 1,800 seats in use.
The creation of more toilets and concession areas will also boost flexibility to split the end, allowing the potential for more home supporters to occupy it when visiting numbers are minimal.
The extensive work across Fratton Park is being undertaken by Cosham-based PMC Construction and Development Services.
Steve Cripps, PMC’s managing director, told The News: ‘Michael (Eisner) became frustrated with the lack of action on the infrastructure and access issue, so decided to proceed with the Milton End regardless.
‘If he hadn’t committed to the programme of works, the capacity would be lowered, so he has pushed ahead while other discussions are still ongoing.
‘I know there was recently a very positive meeting with Network Rail which is part of the plans to improve access to Fratton Park and those discussions will be developed and progressed over the next year or so.
‘Those discussions have no bearing on the Milton End. The owners want to provide a much safer pathway back to the train station without Goldsmith Avenue being the primary route.
‘The Milton End will offer a completely different fan experience to what it is now. It’s a very sad stand to go into at the moment.
‘If you are an away fan who has travelled down from the north to come to the game, you can’t even have a beer.
‘While visiting disabled supporters have to sit in front of the Fratton End, which can’t be that nice. We must improve those areas.
‘The stand will be multi-used, so it can house away fans, but also home – and home disabled – supporters. It offers so much more flexibility than at present.
‘As the away end, it does not use its capacity and provides the least return for value, yet the owners are spending significant numbers on this one.
‘Admittedly, you can be playing the likes of Morecambe and see very few fans in it, so it is a very expensive end to redevelop.
‘But the club are trying to create safety for all areas of the ground.’
In preparation for the summer 2023 work, the old Radio Solent box, which served as the PA room, has been moved from the corner adjacent to the South Stand, with the nearby metal staircase next earmarked to go.
That area has also seen the relocation of a substation, the removal of a floodlight, and repositioning of Vodafone facilities onto the pylon now situated in the North Stand car park.
In addition, the existing moat in front of the Milton End will be filled, allowing the pitch area to be extended.
Meanwhile, the club purchased a small section of back garden from a house on a corner of Carisbrooke Road to allow for the entrance gates to be extended.
Cripps added: ‘The concourse will double in width, allowing more concession outlets providing food and refreshments, while we will quadruple the amount of toilet space.
‘The Milton End roof is fine, but we also have to consider our neighbours behind and privacy issues, so it can’t go any higher.
‘If we did nothing to this stand, it would go down to 1,200 capacity because the seats are rotten, the steps are crumbling, basically things are falling apart.
‘You must also give 10 per cent of your match-day capacity to away fans (capped at 2,000). In a 20,000 stadium, that equates to 2,000 supporters and in a 15,000 stadium that is still 1,500 supporters.
‘If you start dropping below those figures, you will have to look at away fans having rights to other areas of the ground, so it’s important the Milton End stand is maintained.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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