The development of Lincoln City’s Stacey West Stand at the LNER Stadium will now not include a seating capacity increase, with the board blaming the currently unstable economic climate.
Last year, plans had been put in place between the football club and the Red Imps Community Trust to develop the Stacey West Stand, by adding a second tier and increasing stadium capacity in the process.
As well as placing more seats in the ground, it was also suggested that the development could form a new home for the club’s community work. The plans were well-received, with TV presenter Gabby Logan lending her support to the scheme.
The project was expected to cost around £2 million in total, with a £500,000 fundraising target set for the Stacey West Investment Bond when proposals were first revealed.
However, the Lincoln City board of directors have now confirmed revised details of the stand’s development, citing a host of changes to plans, but also stating that the initial objectives of the project have been met “as far as possible”.
One of the main changes is the removal of a potential 1,500 seat capacity increase by adding a second tier at the Stacey West Stand, with the club instead opting for upgrading the current setup with refurbishment and continued exploration of rail seating.
Current legislation for rail seating is at a 1:1 ratio, and the club hope that with time this can be reviewed in an overall capacity increase within the stand, should the merits of the layout be proven.
It was made abundantly clear by the Imps that the stand would “permanently and absolutely” keep the name Stacey West, in tribute of Imps supporters Bill Stacey and Jim West – tragically taken along with 54 others at the 1985 Bradford fire disaster.
A spokesperson for the football club said: “Whilst the board was clear it would have been irresponsible to continue with the original plan, the club have attempted to retain the objectives as far as possible but adjust to the current reality, recognising that the overall economic landscape continues to be volatile and uncertain.
“Therefore, the chosen way forward, subject to planning approval, is a refined design to overcome cost and supply chain challenges and is modular to provide flexibility in terms of build stages.
“The board envisage three phases which upon completion, will deliver an improved fan experience, enhance our community provision and provide commercial growth.”
The first two of these phases, if successful, could be completed within 12 to 24 months, and while the club continue to work on funding, costs and timing, it’s believed this project can be commenced right away, pending planning approval.
In the first section of works, a ground level facility will be built as a new home for Lincoln City Foundation, offering space to deliver education, health and well-being, sport and inclusion services for young people.
Next will be a first-floor facility comprising of more community space and flexible office spaces. The club is currently in discussions to secure occupation by partner stakeholders and local businesses as tenants – on the basis the space is used for social impact.
As for the final phase, well that will be considered once the challenges facing the construction industry in the current climate have subsided. However, it is confirmed that it will see the creation of new hospitality areas, a further commercial revenue drive at the football club.
The Imps have also agreed a major partnership with the Lincolnshire Co-op, giving them exclusive naming rights of the newly created Lincoln City Community and Skills hub, at the rear of the developed stand.
The entire project will be funded by the already secured Football Foundation grant, as well as the Be Lincoln Towns Fund, a contribution from the club’s operating budget and the aforementioned Stacey West Investment Bond.
That investment bond will be kept open and the terms of it remain unchanged. The board of directors believe the amended plans deliver the original plans, but any bondholders with questions can email [email protected].
Lincoln City could potentially end up with a new football stadium in another part of the city in the future, with the approval of the Western Growth Corridor plans by councillors earlier this year.
However, the approximate time to complete the entire development, including 3,200 homes north of Skellingthorpe Road, a shopping centre, school facilities and more, is over 20 years, so the Imps have plenty of time at the LNER Stadium yet.