Cheltenham Town: New stand could be built in stages, admits Baker
CHELTENHAM Town are investigating the possibility of building a new main stand in stages to help spread the overall cost.
With a move to the town's racecourse now ruled out, chairman Paul 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.
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 to look at possible designs, with Scottish company Barr Construction the likely contractors having already built two of the stands at the ground.
Baker said the club were in discussions with Cheltenham Borough Council to ensure redevelopment of Cakebridge Place does not impinge on the building of a new stand and he also revealed some of the car park at the ground could be used for housing to help cover the costs.
"Long term, we are still committed to knocking the old stand down and building a corner-to-corner purpose built replacement, with an extra floor to help generate revenue," Baker said.
"We are closely working with the council on ideas for the area generally because the prefab area on Cakebridge place will be developed soon.
"We need them to be mindful of us with land for a new stand and possible access from Prestbury Road so when it goes ahead, it won't jeopardise our potential scheme."
Baker said supporters would be consulted over the new stand's exact design, with the possibility of terracing as well as seating areas.
"The jury is out on terracing," he said.
"Some new stands we've seen have terracing in front and we'd want to look at all options and consult fans before making a decision.
"But pricing will be a key factor and terracing may help reduce the cost of the structure."
Baker remains open-minded about a future move away from Whaddon Road, where Cheltenham have been based since 1932.
"There may be opportunities in years ahead with new developments at Stoke Orchard and the Golden Valley," he said.
"But the priority now is to stay where we are and finish the job.
"We need to find a partner to come onboard to take floor space, student accommodation maybe or a gym. Maybe a phased development is the way forward to spread it over a period of time, but private funding will be needed.
"That could be a benefactor or a commercial entity and we don't want to borrow huge amounts of money to do it."