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Design & Development

Premier League income boosts Luton’s stadium project

Featured image credit: AND Architects

Luton Town CEO, Gary Sweet, has said revenue generated from the club’s one-season stay in the Premier League will allow it to open its new stadium at maximum capacity, a change to the original vision for the Power Court project.

Luton is heading back to the Championship for the 2024-25 season after its relegation from the Premier League was confirmed on Sunday. The club has been engaged in a long-running effort to deliver a new stadium under the Power Court masterplan.

A year ago, Luton gave an update to its new stadium plans ahead of the biggest game in the football club’s recent history, the Championship play-off final which secured promotion to the Premier League.

Acting as the centrepiece of a regeneration of a 20-acre site adjacent to Luton Railway Station, the Power Court site already benefits from outline planning consent granted in January 2019. Images released in May 2023 represented Power Court Stadium in its first phase of development at a capacity of 19,500, which will include around a third as safe-standing.

A second phase was due to see another 4,000 seats or standing seats added. The club stated these could be developed as demand dictates, without too much disruptive upheaval. However, in a Q&A session with the Luton Town Supporters’ Trust, Sweet revealed how the circa £100m (€117.3m/$127.2m) gained from its brief stay in the Premier League has led to delivery plans for the stadium being revised.

Sweet said: “The extra income from Premier League promotion has enabled us to go bigger, better, bolder. Originally the stadium was to be built in three phases, starting at 17,500 capacity, but now we’re going straight to our maximum allowable capacity.

“Because of that we’ll save time, material, money and upheaval, while we’ve really been able to enhance the design too, with some of those extra touches which make a real difference.

“Funding was always in place though. We sold the land at Newlands at the optimum time and price in the logistics boom and the delays have enabled us to fine-tune the way we work to cut out layers of cost.

“As you know, we try to do things differently, and that applies to this too. We’re not getting into the position that has damaged so many clubs and developers, with debts related to new ground builds in the wrong location. Power Court should eventually be debt-free with income from the residential completion.”

Luton’s plans have been substantially delayed due to multiple factors, notably the need for an existing power sub-station to be moved by UK Power Networks (UKPN). Commenting on the latest timeline for the project, Sweet said: “There are so many complexities with a project like this, in a location like this and at a time like this, including some that are outside of our control.

“But if we’re looking at concrete facts, groundworks have already started and, in-sync with UKPN’s targeted schedule on the sub-station, piling is currently scheduled to start in the first half of 2025.

“That’s the foundations being laid. After that you’re looking at around a two year build time. Construction of the stadium can begin before the sub-station move is finished, while we won’t need to wait for the residential development to start either.

“So that gives you an idea – targeting an opening for the 2027-28 season, while allowing for test events and training. As it would be a nightmare to move mid-season we may be pushed to 2028-29.”

Luton was forced to postpone its first home match in the Premier League as Kenilworth Road underwent a range of improvements to meet top-flight requirements. Fast-track redevelopment work was carried out at Kenilworth Road after Luton secured promotion from the Championship.

Work began the day after Luton triumphed in the Championship play-off final on May 27, focused on the development of a new Bobbers Stand. At the time, Sweet hailed the “miraculous” work that went into making Kenilworth Road, the club’s home since 1905, fit for the Premier League, with the revamped stadium eventually debuting for the match against West Ham United on September 1.