CHALLENGE. Manchester City is a football club known for looking after its supporters’ best interests, as well as those of the wider community around their home ground in East Manchester. At £299, their season ticket is the cheapest in the Premier League, which ensures that top flight football remains affordable for fans of all backgrounds. However, this low cost has also attracted a lengthy waiting list. To keep their matches as accessible as possible it became necessary for the club to develop a strategy for expanding their home ground, Etihad Stadium.
INNOVATION. Working closely with Manchester City, Populous conceived a phased development that would cause minimum disruption during the football season, allowing the team to continue playing at the Etihad throughout construction. The first phase of the project began in March 2014 and saw the South Stand expand by 6,000 seats in time for the start of the 2015/16 Premier League season. This initial phase included three extra rows of seats pitch side, adding a further 1,600 to the overall capacity. In addition to the increase in size, the expanded design includes improvements to the hospitality facilities, new corporate suites, and developments of the land surrounding the stadium taking inspiration from the tailgate parties seen in the NFL, bringing a new dimension to the English game which will heighten the spectator experience.
IMPACT. The stadium expansion respects the identity of the original City of Manchester Stadium, utilising the same masts and tensioned cable net roof structure that make the building such a recognisable landmark, with additions to the external structure that complement the existing façade. The most noticeable difference is the use of internal stairs, rather than the original vertical circulation ramps, providing views out from the concourse and new hospitality spaces which would otherwise have been obscured.