Cheltenham Town: Baker's stadium plan put on hold
THE current economic climate is not right for Cheltenham Town to rebuild the main stand at the Abbey Business Stadium, according to chairman Paul Baker.
With a move to the town's racecourse ruled out, for the foreseeable future at least, Baker is keen to complete the missing piece in the Whaddon Road jigsaw having overseen the transformation of three quarters of the ground during his spell at the Robins' helm.
The 1,106- seater Hazlewoods Stand at the Whaddon Road end was the latest addition when it was completed during the 2005/06 campaign and it houses visiting supporters.
The In2Print Stand, which has 2,000 seats, was opened in November 2001, while the terraced Liberty Mutual Insurance Stand at the Prestbury Road end of the ground was completed for the start of the 2000/01 campaign.
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The old main stand on the car park side was constructed in 1964 and contains the changing rooms, bars, executive and directors' boxes and press facilities.
It is 7,136-capacity Whaddon Road's last link to the non-League era, but Baker is keen to replace it with a more modern construction.
The capacity of any new stand is likely to be around 2,500-3,000 and Baker and other members of the board have visited other grounds in England and Scotland to look at possible designs, with Scottish company Barr Construction the likely contractors having already built two of the stands at the ground.
But Baker said plans have been put on hold, with priority given to on-field matters.
"It won't be happening yet because the climate is not right," Baker said.
"Our focus is on the playing squad and we would need to generate in excess of £1million to be able to proceed with a new main stand and realistically we don't have that finance.
"While we remain open to suggestions, I think supporters would rather see the cash go to the playing squad than a new stand at the moment."
Baker revealed the club has explored the possibility of including a nursery in the new structure.
"It's all about increasing the potential for non matchday revenue," Baker said.
"One proposal was to set up a nursery facility at the ground in the week, which would have been a crèche on matchdays."
With Baker considering his future involvement with his hometown club after a 15-year tenure, he said the completion of the transformation of Whaddon Road and promotion to League One are two things he would most like to achieve before standing down.
Cheltenham have called Whaddon Road home since 1932, having previously played at Agg Gardner's, Whaddon Lane and Carter's Field.
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