Given the recent flurry of news and public comments, it is high time for another update on where things stand with the Spurs stadium project.
In recent weeks, the installation of dozens of giant “rakers” have started to finally give the structure that unique stadium shape, while along the High Road the stadium is starting to rise up high above the hoardings.
In this post, I’ll talk timelines, the NFL, training centres, housing and various other things. My last stadium update, from June, is here.
Timeline and costs
The regular board-to-board meetings between the club and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust have proven useful in gaining insight into the state of the project.
Per the minutes of the last meeting, released on Friday, Daniel Levy confirmed that the project is “more or less” on time and budget.
Crews are working seven days a week, with the aim of being ready to move out in the summer and ensure that only one year away at Wembley is needed.
Cost-wise, “the financial model is in good shape”, Levy said, but he noted the impact of the weakened pound and 7-day work schedule. “All possible resources” were being put into construction to ensure deadlines were met, Levy said, a hint the project is currently at the higher end of its budget.
What does “all possible resources” mean, in practice, beyond extending the hours worked on site to the permitted maximum?
Earlier this month, industry website Building.co.uk published a story stating that Spurs had purchased the five cranes that are being used on the site, as they were unable to hire any when required. Obviously the increased cost of purchasing cranes, rather than waiting for rented cranes to come available, was something the club was prepared to bear in order to ensure deadlines were met.
Given the fact that crews are on site seven days a week, and are even working during matchdays when there are 32,000 fans in the vicinity, it is safe to assume the pace of work is at the absolute maximum, and there is little to no leeway for delay.
Less positive are “considerable” delays to the rebuilding of White Hart Lane station, as well as Haringey’s High Road West regeneration plan. I’m not immediately clear what impact this will have on the club and matchgoing fans when the new stadium opens. Presumably insufficient public transport capacity may require some alternative arrangements on matchdays to ensure safety, but I am speculating. I’d welcome any insight on this.
The NFL explained
Earlier this month, ESPN published the rarest of things: a Daniel Levy interview.
It was fascinating as finally, among other things, Levy’s rationale for building a stadium with NFL facilities was revealed.
Previously, I’ve had fun trying to divine what the rationale may be, but now we know — there is no clear commitment from the NFL, just a considered gamble from Spurs that ultimately, when the NFL is ready for a London franchise, the league will select New White Hart Lane as its home.
“If it ever got to a stage where the NFL decided it wanted to have a permanent team in London, this stadium could literally be, whatever the team was, it would be their stadium as opposed to an NFL team feeling they’re renting Tottenham’s stadium.
“We would welcome very much close cooperation with the NFL and a dedicated team. Obviously a decision is entirely theirs whether they do bring a team to the UK, and where it would be located is something that would be talked about. But yes, we would be very much welcome to that scenario.
“Clearly we wouldn’t both be putting all this into this stadium if there wasn’t the prospect of one day a team eventually coming to London. But there are certainly no guarantees that A) a team comes to London, and B) they have to use our stadium. I think we’re all putting the effort in in the hopes that they will do it.”
Of course, there may be more to the 10-year, two-game agreement that can be currently disclosed, but these comments are the clearest indication of the state of affairs so far.
As far as I have seen, there have been no new comments from senior NFL figures since my last piece on the subject of a permanent London franchise. New London mayor Sadiq Khan expressed support for the idea after a trip to the US, where his meetings included one with Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, widely seen as the most likely franchise to relocate.
However, Spurs are finding other ways to make themselves useful to the NFL.
In subsequent excerpts of the interview, Levy essentially pitched the club’s services in providing training facilities for the NFL should a team be relocated.
“The NFL, a number of times when they’ve come to the UK, has used our training facility and, when a foreign organisation goes to another territory, I think being in partnership with a local operator brings enormous benefits.
“We’re going into this, hopefully the intention is our relationship will expand over time and we’re working very closely together. But I think in terms of training facilities and things like that, we have discussed that with the NFL, but again that’s something for the NFL to decide upon.”
The training facility of a London NFL team will be one of the knottiest issues for the NFL. It’s not like in most US cities where facilities can be thrown up very quickly — in London, it takes years to acquire land and gain consent. Spurs have a huge training facility, and there may be ways of reconfiguring what is there for NFL use, or even expanding slightly such has been done with the new player accommodation. See this thread for more details:
Spurs have a chance to make themselves very useful to the NFL here, and are smart to exploit this angle. It should be noted, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited the facility last autumn so will know just how impressive it is.
One final thought: this was a great interview, and Daniel Levy should do more.
I’m not saying he should take to tweeting like an idiot or start Kardashianizing himself like Jose Mourinho, but rather in a targeted way, get out there a little bit.
Raising the profile of the club now may have benefits in the search for stadium sponsors. So go and have “Lunch with the FT”, talk to AdWeek, get Gary Lineker around for some multi-channel PR schmoozefest as he does so effectively with his Goal Hanger productions.
The football media narrative is stuck on Jose, Jose and more Jose, with an occasional bout of Klopp-itis or Pep-worship. Mauricio Pochettino, when he’s not going rogue and comparing academy prospects to Lionel Messi, is circumspect in his dealings with the media and his English is still limited in terms of expressing himself fully.
There’s a great story to tell about Spurs at the moment, and it’s not really being told, in my opinion.
The club is producing more homegrown talent than anyone and is the major contributor of English players to the national team. It is building a world-class stadium without any assistance from the taxpayer. In general terms, the club is punching wildly above its weight in on-field performance, as the recent Manchester United financial statement highlighted.
If ever there was a time to talk about Spurs, it’s now.
Pictures — then and now
Construction is advancing rapidly, but what is it going to look like come the final farewell to old White Hart Lane in May next year?
I first saw this picture posted by @HotspurSam, and it is well worth showing again. It’s just an impression, but you can see how progress will need to be seriously rapid over the next seven to eight months. The picture in the top-right corner is the most eye-grabbing — that’s what we should see in May.
As I’ve said previously, it is going to look absolutely bizarre.
On the subject of progress, here are a couple of photos. The first is from June 2015, and the second is the latest aerial shot from the club (with blue lines and tint, but you get the picture).
Pretty cool, huh?
The other White Hart Lane development
On September 12, Spurs received approval for its 500 White Hart Lane development, subject to a Section 106 agreement.
The industrial site was bought for the relocation of Archway Sheet Metal, but they did not take up the offer and ultimately moved elsewhere. The club then marketed the site to other occupants, unsuccessfully, before deciding to turn it into housing. It is a major project, with 144 residential units and (some) retail space.
The vote by the Haringey planning sub-committee was a close one — a motion to reject the proposal was lost by five votes to six, and then the project was approved by six votes to four with one abstention. There was noisy opposition to the project, per video of the event.
This is an interesting project in so much as Spurs are doing it at all. After Archway opted against taking the site, the easiest thing to do would have been to sell it on (no doubt at a nice profit given ever-rising land values in London). But, clearly, Spurs have a taste for property development and opted for the more ambitious option.
What Spurs do with 500 White Hart Lane — develop it themselves, or sell on a consented scheme to another developer — may offer hints for what will happen to the final stage of the stadium project.
Once the stadium itself is completed in (hopefully) the summer of 2018, attention will turn to the “Southern Development Land”. This in itself is a huge development, including a 180-room hotel, 585 housing units and other facilities.
While the stadium itself will cost around £500 million, this final phase will take the bill for the project to the £675m-£750 million figure. It is a huge challenge, and the general assumption is that Spurs will ultimately sell this off as a consented scheme and allow someone else to take the risk on it. It may not be that easy, though, as the scheme has a low “internal rate of return” — a measure of the appeal of a potential development to investors.
Either way, it’s one to keep an eye on — the focus at the club now will be firmly on getting the stadium done on time.
Until a decision is made, I am going to keep using the £675m-£750 million figure for the project. Ultimately, the hotel and housing has to be built, and currently the obligation to do so lies with the club.
I’ve written a couple of pieces recently related to the stadium — this one on naming rights, and this one on the challenge of balancing spending between the stadium and the team.
Do have a read if you’ve not already done so — they are detailed pieces, and should be of interest to those following this project.
Meanwhile, over at Chelsea, the club is now in a second period of public consultation due to changes to its plan to redevelop Stamford Bridge.
There’s a Twitter thread here with various links.
I wrote in May that this second consultation would be required — so I’m pleased that what I reported proved to be accurate.
However, from my initial reading of Chelsea’s changes, I’m not entirely clear how the concerns raised by Network Rail about safety and access to the railway that will run under the West Stand have been assuaged.
Any journalists or bloggers interested in a story could do far worse than give Network Rail a call — this stadium simply won’t be built until they sign off, and they were far from happy with the initial plans. My blogging time is limited now so I can’t follow this project as closely as I have done previously.
Thanks for reading, please follow me on Twitter for more stadium chat. Comments welcome, in particular on issues concerning delays to public infrastructure and the plans for the Southern Development Land.