There were celebrations at Exeter City Football Club today when it officially unveiled its new £3.4 million stadium redevelopment.
The project, which has seen the construction of a new stand, changing rooms, away end, and associated facilities, will be opened to fans for the first time on Saturday.
The new stand has been named the Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand in honour of fans’ favourite Adam Stansfield, who died eight years ago. It also features a heritage display which has been created thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the work of the Supporters’ Trust history group and the Grecian Archive, in partnership with the University of Exeter.
Julian Tagg, chairman of Exeter City FC, said: "It was wonderful to welcome so many friends of the club to celebrate the opening of the new stand, from our loyal supporters’ groups and our fantastic sponsors, to the contractors who worked on the development, as well as Exeter City Council."
"It is a huge achievement to build new facilities such as these and deliver on schedule. There have been numerous hurdles to overcome along the way, from legal challenges to the student housing, to the everyday problems that building a development like this in a working stadium creates.
"We have been very lucky to have a dedicated team, working closely with excellent contractors and project managers to deliver this successfully. I am looking forward with great anticipation to seeing the first fans in their seats – and I’m sure they are as well."
The match against Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, October 27 will see the Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand in use for the first time and filled to 50 per cent capacity – a requirement of the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) which oversees stadium safety. The Away End will be opened for the first time to fans from Blackpool FC on November 9 or 10 for the first round of the FA Cup.
The original stand dated back to 1926 and would have needed extensive repairs, and possibly faced permanent closure if its safety certificate had been withdrawn by the SAG.
The club worked with Yelverton Property Developments to produce a scheme which involved Exeter City Council selling the land it owned behind the Big Bank.
Mr Tagg added: "This whole project wouldn’t have been possible without Exeter City Council. The stand, along with the ground it is built on, is owned by the council and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for providing the majority of the funding of this development, from the proceeds of the sale of their land behind the Big Bank."
Councillor Pete Edwards, leader of Exeter City Council, performed the opening duties, unveiling a commemorative plaque and cutting a ribbon on the stand.
In his speech at the opening event, Bob Dennison, managing director Stagecoach South West, said: "At Stagecoach, we are, and always have been, about people, from the people that we employ, to the people that we carry on our buses right in the heart of our community.
"Community is something we believe very strongly in and is one of the major reasons we have supported Exeter City Football Club, a true community organisation, for more than 12 years. Through our enduring partnership we know that this is a club which puts its supporters and the city at the heart of everything it does, a club with which we share many of our core values.
"It has been with a feeling of immense pride that we have watched this fantastic development take shape over the months and along with you all must congratulate the team who have worked so hard to create this fantastic new stadium. We were also very pleased to recognise one of Exeter’s truly great players and share the naming rights of the stand, to make it the Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand."
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Oldham Athletic on Saturday, April 27 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.