In all the excitement of Boston United playing – and winning – their first home fixture since the Neolithic era on Tuesday night, you might have missed the club (or more specifically, Craig Singleton) drip feeding us new photos from the site of the new Community Stadium development over the last 24 hours.
Over on the official website there’s even a video Craig took as he mooched about the site in his hi-vis jacket and helmet, giving fans a close-up view of their new digs for the first time in a few weeks.
If you’re an uber-geek and familiar with the plans on the Quadrant website, even at this early stage it’s already possible to visualise how the stadium will eventually look, and it’s also quite exciting to see features you’ve only ever seen before on a PDF being turned into actual bricks and mortar.
With the steelwork and terracing mostly complete, much of the work is currently hidden from the view of the live webcam, so these new photos were the first look at how construction is going for little while. So, what to make of the latest photos? Here’s some educated guesswork (some of which may prove to be wrong)…
YEAH, IT’S DEFINITELY TWO-SIDED: David Newton repeatedly told fans he didn’t want to have to phase the project, but at the last fans’ forum, and with his hands tied by the perennial problem of funding, he had little choice but to concede defeat on that front. To that end, the club is proceeding with construction of the large West (‘Main’) Stand and the larger of the three terraces – the North Stand.
The phasing of the project will no doubt make segregating fans quite tricky should the need arise next season particularly with the shared concourses in the North Stand, but no doubt the club have something up their sleeve if need be. They might, for example, opt to hand away fans one of the two separate bar/snack/toilet areas of the West Stand – we’ll have to see.
SO WHAT CAN WE SEE?: The North Stand is the new “Town End” that was made slightly larger after consultations with fans a few years ago. Obviously it looks nothing like the Town End – it’s not covered in bird shit for starters, and bits of it haven’t been condemned. Aside from what we can see on the live feed, the club hasn’t released any more photos of this stand in the latest batch of photos, probably because it’s the least interesting and least built of the two stands.
The West Stand, on the other hand, is a beast of a building that will contain pretty much everything the club needs in terms of facilities: offices, hospitality, the Pilgrim Lounge, the dressing rooms, break out rooms – there’s even a banqueting suite, which could well end up as the new home of Club 85. This is also the building that’s going to be covered in futuristic glass cladding. At least, it looked futuristic when it was designed six years ago. In 2019 it sort of looks like every new Lidl built since 2017. And that’s not me being rude: new Lidls are SEXY.
AND THE REST?: Looking at the photos and web-cam images it doesn’t appear that the foundations have been laid for the south and east stands, so there’s little prospect of them being ready until the 2021/22 season at the earliest. The South Stand is the largest job after the West Stand as this backs on to the club’s much-vaunted community facilities – the sports hall/climbing wall/dance studio and so on. Yes, I said climbing wall. Maybe it’s intended as practice for escaping irate Kendal fans, I dunno.
THE STEEL AND CONCRETE IS IN: The steelwork and concrete terracing appears complete (a final piece was laid earlier today to complete the North Stand). The roof – or at least the framework for the roof – has also been installed on the West Stand. Scaffolding and netting has been put in place to allow the roofers to do their thing. No roof has yet appeared on the North Stand, which means it’s hard to get a sense of scale looking at it. Again, watch this space.
SEATING ARRANGEMENTS: With only the framework of the West Stand roof complete, it’s clearly far too early to think about fixing seating to the concrete terracing so we still don’t know what colour scheme the club has opted for. Visual renders seem to indicate alternating yellow and black blocks, but renders don’t always prove to be 100% accurate. Maybe David Newton’s going to create a picture of his own face in the seats. Be honest – we’d all be tempted if we were chairman.
CERTAIN LANDMARKS ARE ALREADY RECOGNISABLE(ISH): One interesting photo posted by the club on Wednesday shows the full length of the West Stand under the terracing. The photo appears to have been taken roughly where the snack bar will be located at the southern end of the stand. In the distance you can see two sets of stairs – it’s hard to work out whether they’re the stairs in reception or not, but either way the camera is facing towards what will one day be the club shop and beyond that the Pilgrim Lounge. This has been relocated from an earlier revision of the plans, where it was situated where the club shop will now go. Still, it’s strange to see an empty, half-finished space that will soon be the spot where we’re going to spend the rest of our days as Boston fans drowning our sorrows/celebrating after the game. Or, most likely, waiting for the car park queue to clear.
SIGHTLINES: While the rake of the new seated stand looks decent, from the photos posted it looks a fair old distance from the front row of seats to the pitch. Unlike the Mick George Stand at York Street, the new West Stand will use a gangway at the front of the stand for fans to access their seats. This means anyone sat in the first couple of rows will have their view obscured by people walking by to their seats – hardly an unusual occurrence when you’re sitting down in non-league football – but it also means the seats will be a fair bit further back from the pitch than they are at York Street today. Of most concern to Boston fans in the posh seats will be the lack advertising boards to kick the back of when someone misses a penalty, and no railing to rest your coffee on. Sorry.
ACCESSIBILITY: Despite the club’s best efforts, York Street hasn’t got the best facilities for fans in wheelchairs. The “cage” was always intended as a stop-gap until the club either moved or redeveloped – the fact it’s still there has always been a bit of an embarrassment. The good news is that everything changes with the new ground: wheelchair spaces will be located at the corners of the stadium and best of all, ten wheelchair spaces will be located on an expanded deck at the northern end of the West Stand. The new seating area is already clearly visible on the live web cam images. These seats will be accessed by a lift just inside the turnstiles and serviced by a dedicated wheelchair concourse area containing two accessible toilets and a refreshment bar. The new facilities will completely transform the match-day experience of fans attending Boston United games in wheelchairs – long overdue and hugely welcome.
FINISHING TOUCHES: Earlier this week, the club announced the launch of its “Building Together” initiative, a mechanism by which fans can ‘donate’ items to the club by means of an online purchase, from floodlights to TVs for the concourse to pitch irrigation or even shrubs for the landscaping around the stadium site. Likely to be of most interest to fans are the memorial bricks and dedication plaques, although there’s no information as yet as to where exactly the bricks will be installed (the plaques will be fixed to seats in the West Stand). While notionally a drive to add some ‘nice to have’ finishing touches to the ground, it’s a bit of an odd one as you’d assume the £11.6m cost of the stadium – a cost Mr Newton says will eventually be met – would cover the cost of ‘must have’ items like floodlights, but if you have £5000 burning a hole in your pocket you can fork out for one if you wish. Just don’t try and claim your floodlight back, or go dig up your shrub, if we go out of the cup next season to Grantham…