Premier League football club Newcastle United has launched a planning application process for a new fan zone on the Strawberry Place site next to St James’ Park.
Newcastle has teamed up with Stack, which has opened up several entertainment venues in the region, and Sela, its main shirt sponsor, on the project. Sela is a Saudi-owned sports event, retail and rights company.
An initial planning application for the fan zone has been lodged with Newcastle City Council. The proposed fan zone will be constructed in two phases to extend the site over a ground floor and first floor.
Newcastle said the fan zone will introduce a “thriving food, drink and entertainment option” for supporters attending matches at St James’ Park. The space, which will be built using repurposed shipping containers around a central plaza and main stage area, will also be open during the week.
The main stage will feature a big screen and seek to provide immersive experiences for live entertainment and broadcasting sports events. The fan zone will feature a total of six bars and 10 street food units.
Stack will work with Newcastle throughout the planning process, with Sela to provide expert guidance. The club hopes to open the fan zone before the end of the year, subject to planning and licensing being granted.
The fan zone would have an initial lifespan of three years, with the club exploring potential other uses for the site. The land, which sits in the shadow of St James’ Park Gallowgate End, was previously a car park. The land was sold off by Newcastle’s previous owner, Mike Ashley, back in 2019 before the club reacquired the land in February.
Newcastle said the site would create 150 full-time and part-time jobs, with the club’s foundation to facilitate opportunities for local people. A community consultation will launch in due course, giving fans and the wider public an opportunity to see the plans in detail.
Newcastle chief executive Darren Eales said: “Our fan zone is aimed at enhancing the experience not just for supporters visiting matches and big events at the stadium, but for people visiting the city centre seven days a week.
“Submitting initial plans is just the first stage and there are a lot of steps in the process, but we are excited to continue working with our commercial and city partners to create something that will really add social and economic value to the location.”
Neil Winch, chief executive of Stack, added: “The joint venture with Newcastle United to create a fan zone in the city centre is exciting for many reasons, not least of which is the coming together of two great North East brands.
“We believe this development is going to be a huge asset, not just to the club and its amazing fans, but to the city as a whole. While Stack is now growing to become a national chain, the fact that our very first venture was in Newcastle means it has a special place in our affections.”
In November last year, it was revealed that Newcastle’s ownership group, which comprises Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, had invested a further £70.4m (€82.1m/$91.5m) of equity into the club, with infrastructure improvements among the priorities.
The new injection of funds brought the ownership group’s investment to over £450m and followed previous investments to improve the stadium, upgrade the club’s training facilities and recruit senior executives to build out its commercial operations.
An investment consortium led by the PIF, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, completed its acquisition of Newcastle in October 2021 in a deal worth a reported £305m. The Premier League approved the takeover after receiving assurances from the new owners that the Saudi Arabian state would not be directly involved in running the club.