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Radical plan uncovered for expansion at St James’ Park

Plans have been revealed to turn St James’ Park, home of English Premier League football club Newcastle United, into a 70,000-capacity stadium.

A bold plan drawn up for potential investors in the last five years, which has recently been seen by local newspaper The Chronicle, would see the pitch rotate 90 degrees to allow for a capacity boost of 17,000. St James’ Park has a current capacity of 52,354.

Design manager John Henry, who has worked on several big stadium projects in his career, concocted the idea to turn the pitch and expand into the neighbouring park.

He told The Chronicle: “One of the advantages you have at SJP is you’re right beside the park. The first thing I was looking at was how you accommodate 70,000, and in doing that, you discover that the trick is to turn the stadium.

“It gives you the ability to get a long facade facing the park and a short facade on the difficult side, with the terrace opposite that listed building, and then the short side on the road where it’s twisting round.

“You look at putting a hotel on one side and lots of residential on the stands on the right hand side. That actually generates a lot of income to pay for the works and makes it more feasible.”

Newcastle United has a history of mothballed stadium projects, including plans to move to Gosforth in the 1960s and the Tyneside ‘San Siro’ in Leazes Park project, via a plan to position the club’s ground next to the River Tyne.

While the project is in its early stages, Henry said several weeks of work went into the initial plans.

The plan was reportedly shared with British financier Amanda Staveley, notable chiefly for her connections with Middle Eastern investors, during the club’s long-running takeover saga from 2017 to 2018.

Henry noted that two thirds of the ground would still be the same, and the stands would not be much higher.

“The thing about it is you want to get most of the people on the sides,” he said. “I’ve drawn the existing stadium – which is the blue pieces, which stay the way they are – so behind the goal and listed building end would be the same.

“It really could be done. With these things, it’s usually just someone coming along and actually thinking about what can be done.”