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St. Mary's expansion? Seems unlikely..
Quite out of the blue last week, someone under the illusion that I know anything of merit, emailed me to ask if I could shed some light on something he’d heard.
Basically, one of his mates was adamant that Saints are about to expand St. Mary’s and he wanted to know if there was any truth in it.
Essentially, it’s the sort of conversation football fans have when there is no football to talk about during international breaks.
I know logic seldom comes into football, but the likelihood seems so remote it’s unlikely it’s something that is realistically on the radar of anyone at the club.
Yes, I know the chairman has mentioned in the past something about 50,000 seats but that doesn’t mean we’re suddenly going to see a forest of cranes rise above the Kingsland Stand.
Besides, the club would need extra planning permission too and nothing has been lodged with the city council - and that would not necessarily be straight forward.
We all know football is essentially male-appendage swinging when it comes to football fans and attendances and stadium sizes are a great way to rub our collective egos as supporters.
But at the the moment (and indeed, in the foreseeable future) there’s just no need to go beyond the 32,689 seats we have.
During a bit of hob-nobbing I did years ago, Andrew Cowen, who was on the board with Rupert Lowe, said the costs of adding extra seats on was prohibitive unless there was a tanglible and definite demand - namely 24,000 season ticket holders and a waiting list in place for a few years.
This was not long after the FA Cup final appearance in 2003, just two years after we’ve moved lock stock to St. Mary’s.
He said that the entire stadium project cost roughly £1,000 per seat to build (stadium was £21m, other stuff like road changes were another £11m) but to add extra seats on the cost was closer to £3,000 per seat.
So that means to increase the stadium to say 40,000 seats would cost not that far off what it did to build the entire thing in the first place - and in the eight years since, I imagine the cost has only gone up.
Even in the top flight, that’d be a huge undertaking but to do it in the Championship would be madness.
St. Mary’s is fine for us at the moment and I don’t see any real need to whack an extra tier on her at the moment, although it’s nice to know that we can do if we ever want to.