David Cardoza answers questions from NTFC SL about the Sixfields redevelopment
Earlier this week, NTFC SL held a question and answer session with Chairman David Cardoza about the Sixfields redevelopment. You can read this below:
Q. Chairman, NTFC have recently submitted a new planning application for works to the West Stand. Before we talk about the West Stand proposals, could we just be clear about the building work to the East Stand, which is already under way. The planning consent for the East Stand permits a new tier of seating above the existing seats a number of executive boxes, refreshment areas and a Conference Centre. From what you have said recently the Conference Centre will not now be positioned here. Is that correct? Will the taking away of the Conference Centre lead to other changes to the approved plan for the East Stand e.g kitchen requirements, car parking provision?
DC: "Yes the Conference Centre will now sit with the West Stand. The car park will no longer be there. The Conference Centre was effectively bolted on to the stand so moving it has no real effect. The only change is that we will be a few hundred additional seats worse off. We are still changing things around but I am hopeful we will get overall capacity to 9,000. We will have new pictures to show everybody in a couple of weeks once we have frozen the design, but it will not look much different to the previous picture. The stand is being built by Buckingham Construction who have built a lot of stadia around the country as well as Northampton's new railway station.
"The ground floor of the East Stand will have a very large concourse area where supporters will be able to drink and eat and there will childrens’ activities – bouncy castles, Xboxes etc.
"On the first floor there will be two very large lounges which will be split into a bar/food area likely to be hosted by former players/ club legends and a family room. You will be able to walk straight to your seats from these lounges. During the week these 2 lounges can be turned into one room seating up to 600 people plus. There will also be a gym area that is let out which will generate rent for the club.
"We will work with the Trust and Centreplate to make sure the kiosk food offer is better than acceptable. One of the things we are looking at is being able to bring in local restaurants to use the kiosks to sell meals on a match by match basis so extending the choice to supporters."
Q. Can you assure supporters that facilities for disabled and impaired mobility have been carefully considered?
DC: "Absolutely. We have consulted with the Safety Advisory Group and Level Playing Fields and they are happy."
Q. What is the new figure for additional seats in the East Stand?
"Around 3,500. Will have exact figure in the next two weeks. It will be nearly as large as the West Stand."
Q. What is the planned completion date for the work on the East Stand? With the changes to the plan, is an early August completion problematic? If the work is not complete for the start of the season, what arrangements will be made for season ticket holders and others spectators in the East Stand?
DC: "The stand will be rebuilt with new seats before the season starts, if certain work is not finished it will not stop any spectator from watching the match. The reason we have not taken off the roof is we would have lost some capacity from the stand and with our two biggest gates against Portsmouth and Oxford we had to put it back until season end rather than lose income."
Q. Considerable internal building works are going on already on in the West Stand. What facilities are being improved by this work?
DC: "We have finished the home dressing room which is now about 5 times the size of the original one. We are putting in a gym for the players and ancillary physio area, managers office, media room, improved away dressing, matchday officials room, increasing size of ticket office, redoing or overhauling all of the electrics, plumbing and cabling and a new PA system, improving kitchen equipment, cleaning up and repairing the exterior of the stand. The restaurant will become a bar once the Conference Centre opens and guests will move to there, Carr's Bar will then become a bar/eating area for away fans. The Players Lounge members will also move to the Conference Centre so that area may become a crèche generating money for the club during the week or possibly a larger club shop. We are adding a corporate area on the concourse level. This will entail a box for home and away directors and 4 boxes to let out with a kitchen and toilets.
"The club shop will remain were it is for the time being but we will be extending and rebuilding the staff offices above the shop."
Q. Reducing the capacity of Sixfields from the planned 10,000 to the quoted 8,500 seems to represent a significant change in the phasing of the business plan. What caused you to make this change?
DC: "I am hoping it will be nearer 9,000. To do the works to the West Stand we needed to save some money and we had to sacrifice a few rows of seats and some other minor changes. If we are not generating enough money to put out a good team we won’t need the extra seats. On seating I want to make sure we have additional away seating so we can be in a position to offer 2,000 seats or more to away fans.
"We can increase the North and South Stands at any time. We do have a plan of how to do that and how we can finance it. When the time comes it can be done in a close season, no problem."
Q. How many corporate boxes will there now be in the East and the West Stands? Can you tell us how successful the recent marketing exercise for the boxes has been?
DC: "10 – 12 in the East and 4 in the West. Andy Wooldridge, our commercial manager, is very confident they will be sold, he has a waiting list of interested parties."
Q. The new planning application shows three boxes attached to the front elevation of the West Stand at first floor level above the circulation area below. Are these boxes for a special purpose?
Q. Will there be any seats lost in the West Stand as a result of this work?
DC: "Around 20 seats . We did look at a more comprehensive scheme for the West Stand but it involved moving up to 1500 season ticket holders. Not something I wished to take on!!"
Q. The new planning application does not include the planned Conference Centre. Is it planned to make a separate planning application for the Conference Centre at a later stage? Can you tell us where the conference centre will be sited and how it will be connected to the West Stand?
DC: "The Conference Centre will sit on the West car park and there will be a walkway into the concourse level. Planning is going in for this in 3 weeks along with the hotel."
Q. Can you tell us any news about the hotel and residential development phases?
DC: "The hotel will be 100 beds and will be either connected or sit alongside the Conference Centre. The hotel and Conference Centre will be in the same planning application as the residential and retail scheme, which will be going in in around 3 weeks. This will hopefully take around 13 weeks to get approval."
Q. The £12million loan via Northampton Borough Council has raised a number of questions by supporters. Can you tell us in general terms what you get for the £12M and your level of confidence for achieving income to repay the loan in the agreed time frame.
DC: "This is £7.5 million for the stadium works (including a significant cost towards relocating the athletics club), Conference Centre and £4.5 million for the hotel. Within the stadium works we are building a new East Stand, a huge overhaul of the West Stand, brand new seating through the whole stadium, new floodlights, rebuilding club offices and a brand new Conference Centre that should be able to take 700 – 1000 people. I challenge anybody that can do better than that with the money we have.
"The hotel income will pay back the £4.5 million loan and will leave a surplus income for the club.
"Of the £7.5 million for the stadium – a minimum of £5 million of this is paid back from the housing /retail development. The club's business plan shows that we can support the remaining loan as well as grow the club on and off the field. The reality is my father and I do not want the club to carry any debt so I would take it that the loan will be fully paid back sooner rather than later.
"There are personal guarantees in place with the council that can be called on should there be a problem with paying back the loan so the football club is protected."