The Riverside development will increase seating capacity, but also “enhance the amenities” for all to enjoy. But what does this really mean? Louis Wishlade looks at what we know.
With Fulham recently offering fans the opportunity to be among the first to find out more information on the Riverside development by signing up to what appears to be a dedicated news service of sorts, excitement about the new stand and its associated facilities continues to grow.Embed from Getty Images
What do we already know?
The club has stated that not only will the Riverside development increase seating capacity, offering an additional 3,900 seats and taking the capacity of Craven Cottage to a total of 29,600, but that it will also “enhance the amenities” for all to enjoy, whether on a match day or not. The amenities aim to turn the cottage into a “world class leisure destination” that not only brings financial benefits for the club, but also provides a place for supporters and locals to enjoy.
The Riverside, which is rumoured to cost the club around £80 million, is set to include businesses such as a gym and café overlooking the Thames. Surely, there is no better place to relax with a coffee? The location, dubbed Fulham Pier, is also looking to host live music, educational classes, a kids club and a film club. Mock-ups have also shown food trucks, accommodation and meeting rooms. Other facilities include a rooftop restaurant and bar, with the scenery showing the river and Putney on one side and the Craven Cottage pitch and London skyline on the other. Perhaps most notably, the new stand will include a rooftop pool, otherwise known as something for our strikers to aim for.Embed from Getty Images
Fulham Pier, which broke ground in summer 2019, has extended the stand that faces Putney into the banks of the river Thames using the technique of land reclamation. This allows Craven Cottage to become part of the Thames walkway, allowing for an “uninterrupted walk along the banks of the River Thames between Hammersmith and Putney Bridges”, as the Cottage, which has been the home of Fulham Football Club since 1896, has always been one of few places along the river that pedestrians have had to divert their route around.
The development creates a contrast in architecture. The Riverside will boast a modern look using glass, steel and wood, whilst across the pitch the oldest stand in professional football, the grade II-listed Johnny Haynes Stand, exhibits some of the finest Victorian design, with its wooden seats and brick façade forming the iconic stand designed by renowned stadium architect Archibald Leitch.Embed from Getty Images
However, what’s most important to the majority of the White’s supporters, is that the Riverside development reaffirms Craven Cottage as our home, especially after recent rumours of the Khans looking to add grounds, such as Wembley Stadium, to their portfolio. Craven Cottage is central to the club’s – and many of its supporters’ – identity, and with uncertainty over our ongoing residence there, such as rumours Al Fayed’s planned to build flats on the site as we languished at Loftus Road in the early 2000s, it’s music to our ears that the Khans are willing to invest so much that we call home.
What can we expect from the announcement?
The upcoming announcement, for which you can register your details for here, will likely include details on a more specific date of completion, given the somewhat recent announcement that the project would be delayed due to COVID-19 slowing the rate at which interior work such as plumbing or electrics can be done. Shahid Khan recently conceded that the full opening is now not expected until summer 2022, though some seating may be available from the start of next season.
It may also give fans more details on what we can expect from the businesses looking to inhabit Fulham Pier. Currently, fans have to decipher Fulham Pier’s website on the amenities that the stand will include, however, the announcement may give us more information on the types of businesses that it will house, as well as the products and services that they will provide.
While we don’t yet know what benefits the project may bring the club financially, as supporters we welcome any news from the club – especially as it is something to look forward to having not been in stadiums for more a year now.