Arsenal are planning a series of much-needed renovation projects at Emirates Stadium with the club acknowledging during this week’s Fans Forum that 16 years of wear and tear have taken a toll on our home.
It’s understood that an audit of our facilities was undertaken last summer and that a variety of tasks have since been prioritised for the end of the current season. Some other smaller projects have already been actioned.
Here’s a rundown of what’s taken place and what’s planned…
When it rains, it leaks. And even when it’s not raining, it leaks. Quotes for the repair work were being finalised back in December and we’ve heard it’s not going to be cheap. Work on the 40-week project is due to start soon. To clarify, don’t expect anything particularly different, it’s just going to be made more ‘robust’ in places.
The exterior crests and player wrap
The paint is peeling off the large club crests and the canvas ‘legends’ wrap is badly faded. Both will be fixed. The club was expecting alternative wrap designs to drop in January and a fan consultation group is being created to help make a final decision. Could we go digital? The London Stadium and Wembley both make use of large-scale screens and one imagines the commercial benefits of such an option could offset some of the costs of installing and running them. That said, they probably wouldn’t be needed everywhere given a large section of the stadium overlooks railway tracks. We’ll have to wait and see.
The big screens
At least twice this season the big screens inside the ground have been on the blink on matchdays. Installed when the ground opened in 2006, they fall a long way short of modern HD standards. The aim is for both to be replaced with bigger and better alternatives in time for the 22/23 season.
Over the years, it’s become a running joke about how long it takes to get a beer at halftime, particularly in the upper tier. The installation of draft beer taps to all upper tier concession stands is now complete.
The turnstile ticket readers
With more and more people using their phones to access the ground, there’s a need to upgrade the ticket readers. While the existing readers work, they can be fiddly and the additional time it takes for someone to get in, when multiplied by thousands, leads to frustrating queues and people missing kick-off. Good to hear they are being replaced.
The PA system
It was bad at Highbury and it’s bad at the Emirates. As we understand it, the aim is for a complete overhaul but it sounds like it’s a long-term ambition rather than something that will happen in the next year or so.
Better mobile connectivity
While we don’t advocate people scrolling on their phone during matches, it’s pretty mental that many can’t even check the scores of other games because there’s little to no mobile reception inside Emirates Stadium. The club is aware and improving the situation is on the to-do list. Again, this is likely to be a long-term project.
There are definitely other areas that need improving. Many parts of the stadium look like they need a lick of paint, the concrete concourse and stonework in Armoury Square is very tired, many of the plaques in the North Bank Terrace gallery are falling apart and the quality of the food remains a notch below atrocious.
There’s not an endless pot of cash, so it’s right that the club focuses on the biggest stuff, however, as supporters of a club that charges some of the highest ticket prices in world football, it’s well within our rights to hold the Board and owners to account on these matters.
This is our home. We should be proud of it.