Training ground move on hold as Leeds plan for 55,000 seat Elland Road
15 Jun 2021 06:04 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Plans for a training campus around Fullerton Park and the former Matthew Murray school site have been put on hold as Leeds United plan to extend their Elland Road stadium to a capacity of 55,000. Previously the club had planned to build a Parklife Football Hub on Fullerton Park, the former location of Leeds United’s training pitch prior to the move to Thorp Arch, in conjunction with Sport England and the Football Association. The new facility was set to include four 3G artificial grass pitches, a community cafe with meeting rooms, fitness gym and studio and changing rooms situated directly behind the existing West Stand. This would have been complimented by a new training ground for the first team on the former Matthew Murray school and adjacent Ingram Road sites.
But with the investment from the San Fransisco 49ers, Leeds United’s ambitions for Elland Road have grown and the Fullerton Park land is required to fulfil their ambitions of adding a further 18,000 seats to the stadium brining the capacity up to 55,000. The plan will mean that the proposed Parklife facility will move to the Matthew Murray site and include four full size 3G artificial grass pitches, community café, changing rooms, gym, treatment rooms and pharmacy. The new site for the Parklife hub means that the planned move of the first team training facilities has been out on hold. Leeds will still provide finance for the hub which will be operated by the Leeds United Foundation and will carry club branding.
The club have invested a lot of money on their Thorp Arch training facilities since Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival, culminating in the awarding of Category One academy status last year. The reduces the requirement to relocate the training ground quickly but with the club not owning the complex near Wetherby it is understood they are still keen to find a site more accessible from the city centre. One of the key aims for the Matthew Murray site was to make the clubs facilities easier to get to for inner city kids, the current 15 mile journey out to Thorp Arch perceived as a barrier to attracting potential talent within the city. There is plenty of green space in south Leeds which could be considered, perhaps a move near Stourton where Peter Ridsdale once dreamed of a new stadium could be on the cards?
Returning to Elland Road, the plan is to expand at least two stands in phased approach. With the Parklife scheme out of the way, it allows space to grow behind the West Stand, which you would think will be the first to be redeveloped with a substantial increase in capacity and expanded corporate facilities. There is also plenty of space behind the Kop which would be the next obvious candidate for redevelopment although any changes would need to be sympathetic to the atmosphere created by it’s 7,000 vociferous occupants. With 25,000 people on the season ticket waiting list, Leeds United should be able to fill an expanded Elland Road no problem. Let’s face it, it’s about time the old girl deserved a lick of paint.
Could you imagine a new 20,000 seat West Stand and a 15,000 seat Kop? What do you want most out of any redevelopment plans? A single tier Kop? Safe standing? A cheese room?