Newcastle United chief executive Darren Eales has confirmed that the Premier League club has started a “formal process” to assess the possibility of expanding St. James’ Park.
During a supporter engagement event held at the stadium yesterday (Wednesday), Eales confirmed that a “world-leading” agency is looking at a stadium feasibility study.
Eales also said that a survey would be sent out to fans in the next couple of weeks to gather their thoughts on a potential stadium expansion.
With a capacity of 52,000, St. James’ Park is among the bigger stadiums in the Premier League, but expansion has been restricted by its proximity to residential areas.
“We’re doing a stadium feasibility study,” Eales said, according to the Northern Echo newspaper. “We have one of the world-leading agencies looking at it.
“The whole concept of that feasibility is thinking about the art of the possible. We know we have this fantastic location here on the top of the hill, the cathedral on the hill but we know we have some boundary issues. It’s not as simple as if we had a lot of space. So what can be done? That’s one of the things we have to look at.”
Eales added: “I’m really excited about it, excited because there’s been a lot of talk for 30 years or more about how we create more supply to our supporters. And this is our way of getting the best in the world to tell us what the answer is.
“At that stage there’s more consultation, the first thing is to see what’s possible. If you have preconceptions, you limit yourself. What we’re really trying to stress is think about everything and then we’ll work backwards from what is possible. That’s the hope.”
Since Newcastle was bought by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in October 2021, the expansion and improvement of St. James’ Park has been a key priority. In September, the club announced that a planning application for a new fan zone adjacent to the stadium had been formally approved by the local authorities.
‘St. James’ STACK, powered by Sela’ intends to be a food, drink and entertainment option for those attending matches and events at the stadium, as well as a midweek leisure and social destination. Sela is a Saudi-owned sports event, retail and rights company, which serves as Newcastle’s main shirt sponsor.
The fan zone, which is expected to open in the spring, will complement recent development projects around the Strawberry Place site, which sits in the shadow of the Gallowgate End.
Eales was appointed chief executive of Newcastle in July 2022. He joined the club from Major League Soccer team Atlanta United, where he had served as president and chief executive since 2014.
While at Atlanta United, Eales oversaw the team’s move to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which it shares with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta United secured the highest average attendance in MLS during Eales’ tenure.