Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone has told supporters that the Premier League club hopes to be able to play in its new waterfront stadium at Bramley Moore Dock from August 2022, but warned that there is much work to be done in order for the proposals to become a reality.
The club confirmed last year that land at Bramley-Moore Dock in Peel’s £5m Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme had been secured.
The Toffees, who currently play at Goodison Park, have long sought to relocate to a more modern stadium although several proposed sites have fallen through down the years.
Speaking at the club’s general meeting, Elstone said: “Much work, time and resource has gone into advancing the stadium project over the past 12 months but there is much still to do. And if there is one enduring message to take away from tonight, it is that while we are fully committed, and optimistic, there are still hurdles for us to overcome, not least securing all the money needed for what will be a huge financial commitment with very long-term consequences.”
According to Everton, the premium location and cost of preparing the land for building has led to the price tag for the project increasing significantly.
Elstone said: “The site commands a sizeable cost premium – not just the cost of the land but the cost of preparing the site to build a stadium on. But it’s a site that comes with some fantastic commercial upsides, opportunities our business plan continues to explore.
“We are confident that around two-thirds of what we need will be supported by Liverpool City Council in an arrangement that generates not only a very healthy financial return for the council but, most importantly, kick starts a scheme that will provide significant numbers of new jobs, houses and new business. It is important that we thank the mayor and his colleagues for their commitment to the project over the past 12 months.”
Elstone said that Everton will now work to “firm-up” the council’s support and develop its financing model for the project, before consulting fans on what they would like to see from the new stadium and ultimately finalising a planning proposal for the site.
He added: “Of course, that [consultation] will further inform costs and budgets, a circularity we will monitor throughout to ensure the stadium project, full of opportunity but not without risk, remains the right way forward for the club. We will prepare and submit a planning application, and a big part of that process is also our aspiration for Goodison Park.
“We will keep working on and keep updating our business plan, ensuring we capitalise on all the opportunity offered by such a great location. We hope it will take a year to secure funding and planning, and to conclude designs, and then three years to build on what is a complex site.
“If all goes to plan, we hope to be kicking-off at Bramley-Moore Dock in August 2022.
“Committed? Yes. Optimistic? Yes. But still with lots to do.”
At the same meeting, California-based architect Dan Meis shared his stadium plans with supporters via a video message. Meis’ past designs include LA’s Staples Center and the Paul Brown Stadium, home of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.
He said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time for us. I know there’s been a lot of anticipation about seeing the building coming along. We have done some work and I think 2018 is going to be a very exciting year for all of us as the project moves forward.
“I think people have heard me say many times that it’s pretty unusual for me to start a project with the kind of vision and brief that the club provided for us. That was one of the reasons why I was first excited about the project, then I fell in love with the club and Goodison, and it’s become a really unusual, very passionate project for me, and I think a career-defining one.
“That kind of strong vision about who the club is, and who the community is, I have no doubt will create a unique building that will be a model for football the world over.”
Meanwhile, Everton major shareholder Farhad Moshiri spoke to Everton’s website ahead of the meeting. He said that the club “have to have a stadium and will have a stadium” and reported that plans for a new home at Bramley Moore Dock are “progressing well”.