Tottenham had to be happy with the draw for their first game in their return to the Champions League after six years — a home game against Ligue One side Monaco. But, in practice, both teams had to adjust to a new stadium.
The game was not played at the club’s historical home White Hart Lane, but in front of 85,000 fans at Wembley Stadium… Tottenham’s new part-time home.
The North London club is in the early stages of a massive facilities project, the Northumberland Development Project, including a brand new 61,000 seat stadium, on land adjacent to their current home, set to open for the 2018-2019 season.
As a result, they are in the midst of a two season transition.
This season, the team will continue to play their home Premier League games at a diminished capacity White Hart Lane – 8,000 seats were removed as part of the old stadium was demolished to make way for construction on the new stadium – but their Champions League games will be held at Wembley.
In the second year of the new stadium construction, during 2017-2018 season, all of the team’s home games will be relocated there.
The increased capacity of Wembley provides an opportunity for more fans to see Tottenham in person over the next few years. The 85,000 that saw the Monaco game was a record – the most fans at a club home game in English history. White Hart Lane, the club’s home since 1899, only held 36,000 pre-demolition, so the temporary stadium more than doubles home capacity.
Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy said “Our season ticket waiting list is over 50,000 so this now also offers us a great opportunity to provide more of our supporters with a chance to see the team play live during our Champions League campaign.”
The team has even gone so far as to add some Tottenham touches for their games at Wembley this season and next. On game days, they have installed temporary locker room elements with the slogan of the club, “To dare is to do,” and signage both inside and outside the stadium will sport the team logo.
Wembley, however, is only a temporary solution – the new stadium will be the home of Tottenham, as Levy has said, “for generations to come.”
The new stadium is set to be state-of-the-art, and at 61,000, has a capacity just a few hundred more than their North London rivals Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium – an architectural sign that the rivalry continues. Estimated costs of the project is over $500 million dollars (over £400 million).
The new stadium will reportedly take on a sponsored name once arrangements are in place, and has drawn attention for its innovative design.
The feature that has received the most press is its fully retractable pitch, with a synthetic surface underneath to facilitate NFL football games – the team will host two per year through 2026 – and even a possible London-based NFL franchise. Levy even suggested this week that an NFL team could also share the team’s new $6.5 million dollar (£5006817.01) training facility in the London Borough of Enfield.
The asymmetrical stadium, designed by Populous (the American firm that also designed both Emirates and Wembley), will also feature a 17,000 seat single tiered stand, the largest in the U.K., that will incorporate a five story glass atrium featuring a food court and retail. It will also feature an external “Sky Walk” allowing fans to climb the outside of the stadium to a height of 40 meters, with a promise of vistas of London.
In addition to the new stadium, the 20 acre parcel surrounding it will be redeveloped. The area will feature new team facilities: new team offices, medical, changing and ticketing facilities, as well as an expanded team shop and club museum. The project will also bring many community and touristic features to the neighborhood: over 500 homes including subsidized housing, a hotel, a community health center, a primary school and technical college, as well as an extreme sports facility with the tallest indoor climbing wall in the world.
It is a good time to be a Tottenham fan. Although a few less tickets are available for home Premier league games this season, both this year’s Champions League and next season’s games at Wembley provide an opportunity for more of their fans to see the team in person. And, at the end of the rainbow, after two seasons of transition, they will move into brand new impressive digs.
Though they lost their first Champions League game at Wembley, disappointing 85,000 in attendance, the club has better days ahead.
This article first appeared in the weekly Soccer Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here for your free subscription!