Man City stadium poised to become bigger than Old Trafford - Exclusive
Published 23:00 03/04/10 By Simon Mullock Exclusive
Manchester City's owners are assessing plans to make Eastlands the biggest stadium in English club football.
Sunday Mirror Sport can reveal that the Abu Dhabi United Group’s blueprint to oversee a major regeneration of the East Manchester area will include a project to expand their council-owned ground.
One of the plans being discussed is to add another tier and 30,000 seats to take the capacity of the City of Manchester Stadium to almost 80,000. City’s bitter rivals Manchester United currently have the biggest ground in the Premier League, with Old Trafford able to hold 75,769.
But City owner Sheikh Mansour has already promised to build one of the best teams in world football – and he wants a stadium to match.
Feasibility studies are being conducted to formulate how Eastlands’ 47,726 capacity can be increased.
A City source confirmed: “The owners want to build the best football club possible – both on and off the pitch.
“Everything is at a very early stage and the only thing that is set in stone at the moment is the development of a City Street outside the stadium, based on a European-style fan zone. But the owners are looking into every single aspect of how the club is run – including the possibility of expanding the stadium.
“But it won’t be just about increasing stadium capacity. We are looking at the whole match-day experience, from how fans are catered for on the concourses to how we look after corporate guests.”
The Blues are currently the third-best supported team in the Premier League, with only United and Arsenal boasting bigger average attendances this season.
But there is a belief at the club that if City become a major force in Europe demand for tickets will outweigh current supply.
One revolutionary idea being discussed is pitching ticket prices at a level that will attract future generations of fans to the club. City already offer some of the best deals in football, with junior season ticket prices just £90 and tickets for some games as low as £5 for under-16s.
Prices for next season have yet to be announced, but City have asked all of their 36,000 season ticket holders to fill in an on-line questionnaire so to gauge how they can offer even better value.
Sunday Mirror Sport revealed last month how City are planning to build a £50million training ground close to Eastlands.
They have since entered into a partnership with Manchester Council and the New East Manchester Regeneration Agency that will see major redevelopment in the area around the stadium.