A newly promoted League Two club unveil ambitious plans for a new 15,000 seater stadium inspired by two National League sides.
They have just won a place back in the Football League, and now the Hartlepool United club chairman Raj Singh and the Borough Council’s top leaders are looking to the future.
They signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ on Friday prior to the playoff final, to kickstart a long-term project for Victoria Park and the surrounding area.
Proposals are now drawn up to redevelop the ageing ground and how to replace the Mill House Leisure Centre after its demolition whilst also having a new multi-million pound leisure centre built on the Waterfront marina site.
By bringing in new conferencing, hospitality, health, and training and educational facilities at the ground, it will mean more money and income coming it not just matchdays but for all week round.
Denise McGuckin managing director of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “All options are on the table.”
Victoria Park, currently at a capacity of 7,856, could be increased in capacity over time to a 15,000 seat stadium, said Mr Singh.
Following years of disappointment, average attendances at the club have fallen to around 3,788, however now they are back in the EFL, that is bound to rise back up fast.
He said they are looking to follow clubs like York City’s LNER Stadium and Barnet’s The Hive Stadium which have leisure and community facilities as part of their new homes.
Mr Singh said: “It would all be under one hub and you’ve got money coming in the rest of the week not just on match days.
“This is the first step of the next few steps I would like to think and it’s an important step that we’ve got this memorandum of understanding signed today.”
He said the plans were “paramount” for making the club sustainable after it nearly folded in 2018 before Mr Singh stepped in.
Council leader Councillor Shane Moore said: “It’s really its about bringing the stadium back up to date and making sure it is the heart of the town and a community asset.
“At the same time we need to ensure that the club itself has income being generated every day of the week and not just every fortnight and it’s getting it back on that financial footing so we never see ourselves back where it was a few years ago.”
He and Ms McGuckin said residents could be confident the plans will happen despite previous masterplans for the area not coming to fruition.
Cllr Moore said the council and club have a very good relationship built on the shared vision and Ms McGuckin pointed to the town’s recent £25 million Town Fund success.
The issue of training facilities will also be discussed.
There have been previous attempts to develop the area including a new 3,000-seat stand at Victoria Park – complete with hotel – plus an upgraded Mill House swimming pool.
The sky may be grey but that pitch is looking GREEN 👍🏻😍⚽️🍃
— Football Architect (@FootieArchitect) March 5, 2021
ABOUT VICTORIA PARK
The four sides of the ground are known as the Town End Terrace, the Neale Cooper Stand, the Cyril Knowles Stand and the Rink End.
The Town End Terrace is a standing area behind the south goal, and usually the most vocal part of the ground.
The Neale Cooper Stand (formerly the Niramax Stand is an all seating stand with a terraced paddock at the west side of the ground. The Cyril Knowles Stand is a modern all-seater stand to the east of the ground.
The Rink End is also an all-seater stand containing 1,033 seats, some with an obscured view of the pitch due to supporting pillars. The Rink End is at the north end of the ground and houses only away fans.
The stadium was previously known as the Northern Gas and Power Stadium between August 2016 and June 2017 and additionally, the ground was called The Super 6 Stadium during the 2018–19 season for sponsorship reasons.
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The ground is located on Clarence Road, close to the town centre. This allows visitors access to a large range of pubs with the most popular for visiting fans being the Corner Flag, between the Cameron’s Brewery Stand and the Rink End. The Victoria Suite is also at the ground but is for members only. The ground’s location also makes parking easier as it is near several large car parks such as the Jackson’s Landing and other retail parks. The ground is ½ mile from Hartlepool railway station.
Victoria Park has also hosted international matches such as England under 18s v Scotland under 18s, women’s football, employability training, school trips and was the home of Pitch Invasion Festival in May 2012. It saw around 5,000 people attend a two-day event which had live music across two stages and a small funfair. James Arthur played the gig with his band a few months before he won talent show The X Factor.
Fans reacted as the new League Two club unveil plans for a new 15,000 seater stadium inspired by two National League sides…
Tom Armstrong: we won’t fill anywhere near 15,000…
Kevin Minton: Dunno about anybody else but all seater doesn’t appeal to me regardless of capacity.
Ricky Thompson: Not a hope in hell
Paul Hind: How about filling the corners in which would take it to around eleven thousand update the mill house side build a conference centre that could be used seven days a week
Ian Hardy: I would have thought about ten to twelve thousand would be a good starting point
Iain Taylor: So long as it doesn’t stop buying players
Nufc David: Jeez 15,000 seater stadium what’s wrong with the stadium now won’t fill 15,000 even if we get promoted I highly doubt 15,000 would be filled but nice to have I suppose.
An Drew: Seems like the majority of fans are skeptical about the viability of a 15k stadium, I wonder if there will be an opportunity for consultation with fan groups on this proposal?
Michael Trueman: they could use it as multi purpose. Boxing, gigs etc. Why not
Kevan McNay: Rotherham’s should be the model, 12000 and it has character… Something like Chester would be a disappointment
Michael Brazier: We will go the way of Darlington. We will never fill a big ground
Mike B W Lewis: The ground is a mess, look at the seats I the mill house, there a shambles, the whole ground if you look around needs so much work doing on it. It is clear pools are not talking about building a Darlo white elephant, but actually upgrade the stands and make it more pleasant ground for fans to visit. All so so many other clubs have now used the Community scheme to get there grounds upgraded, so why not us
Mark Newton: no chance end up with a soulless box
Stephen Poxon: I love the ground as it is.
Peter Hall: I think it sounds promising 🙏
Daniel Hackworth: Victoria Park is an absolute dump, new stadium is an absolute must.
Bryan Littler: The Vic is looking dated even now. Give it 20 years and it will be unfit for purpose. IF they can get funding go for it. Look at attendances when it’s lashing rain on a cold Tuesday night. Always down as the Mill House terrace ends up soaked. A new ground will attract new fans. It would have been close to capacity gates towards the end of season. Loads won’t queue for tickets but would go to matches. Go for it.