Potential developments to Elland Road we could see next season
29 Jul 2020 08:21 am, by YorkshireSquare
Following the promotion back to the Premier League certain improvements will need to be made to Elland Road to meet the leagues requirements. This goes hand in hand with the club’s desire to relocate their training facilities to the area around Elland Road. Leeds United have an ambition to provide new, high quality training and development facilities and a base for the Leeds United Foundation within the City to support its community development programmes. At the heart of this is a £25 million investment across three sites near to Elland Road, these are Fullerton Park, the former Matthew Murray school and Ingram Road Primary School’s playing fields to the north of Brown Lane.
Earlier this month Leeds United announced that the Fullerton Park ‘Parklife’ scheme had been granted planning approval. Based on land opposite Elland Road, Fullerton Park will become home to a new community sports hub, delivered in partnership with the Football Foundation and Leeds City Council. This will be the first vital step in bringing the Academy back to the heart of Leeds and will complement the new training ground developments planned for the old Matthew Murray school site and Ingram Road Primary School playing fields.
Formerly the site of a speedway track, then the training ground for Leeds United throughout the Revie era and beyond until the opening of Thorp Arch in 1994, Fullerton Park sits just behand the West Stand at Elland Road. The proposal is that Fullerton Park is developed into a Parklife Football Hub. The Parklife scheme run by Sport England in association with the Football Association aims to create a sustainable model for football facilities based around artificial grass pitches on hub sites providing significant new investment into local, accessible facilities. The new facility will include four 3G artificial grass pitches, a community cafe with meeting rooms, fitness gym and studio and changing rooms.
The rationale for this is the opportunities this presents for the Leeds United Foundation to widen the educational and sport development programmes it runs and LUFC’s ambition to create elite training facilities in the heart of their birthplace in Beeston. The outcome of discussions between LUFC, The FA and the Council was that the FA supported the development of a feasibility study for a Fullerton Parklife scheme. The training ground proposal at Matthew Murray has been developed on the basis of a successful bid to the Football Foundation relating to the Parklife Project at Fullerton Park.
Floodlights & Facilities
With promotion Leeds United will have to improve certain aspects of Elland Road in order to meet the Premier Leagues’ requirements. Angus Kinnear states there is several million pounds worth of investment required to get Elland Road up to Premier League standard and those plans are in place. As part of those plans a planning application was submitted last year for plans first drawn up in 2017, to install two new 44m feature LED lighting columns behind the West Stand in order that Leeds United will be able to satisfy the minimum standards for live 4k television broadcasts.
Construction of the new East Stand in 1993 lead to the original diamond floodlights removal. First on the east side of the ground then with the final pair on the west side of the ground removed ahead of the 1993-94 season. Since then the floodlights have been mounted on the stadium roof, much to the dismay of Patrick Bamford and Helder Costa. But floodlight towers could return to Elland Road, ones not quite as impressive or iconic as those diamonds that used to shine bright across the South Leeds though.
Improvements will also need to be made to the press, media and broadcast facilities, changing rooms and dugouts though a large amount of upgrades have already been made to the corporate facilities at Elland Road over the past few years.
At last years civic reception in celebration of Leeds United’s centenary, Managing Director Angus Kinnear announced plans to expand Elland Road stadium to 50,000 capacity. The announcement expands on the recent proposals to move the clubs training facilities to land in Holbeck and Beeston around Elland Road and on the presentation slide was titled “Vision: Elland Road”. The image includes a much expanded west stand and a filled in south west corner and will take Elland Road into the biggest 10 football stadiums in England.
Although the capacity of Elland Road is now just 37,800 the record attendance was a staggering 58,892 who packed the cinder banked terraces. Could this development see crowds of over 50,000 fans at Elland Road yet again? Chairman Andrea Radrizzani has stated that Leeds will need to confirm themselves in the Premier League as a priority for two or three years before they can look at an expansion plan in terms of capacity though. So any upgrade to the West Stand may still be a couple of years off.