New Bucks Head blueprint could suit Grimsby Town
I'M sure I wasn't the only one who travelled to Grimsby Town's recent match with Telford and was impressed with the set-up at New Bucks Head, writes the Grimsby Telegraph's Matt Dannatt.
The 6,300 capacity stadium, which was opened in 2003, replaced the old Bucks Head ground which had been home to Wellington Town and Telford United for over a century.
On the club's official website, it reads: "Although the Bucks Head held a special place in the hearts of many supporters, it was in desperate need of renovation.
"The terraces were a mixture of concrete steps, one of the stands was built from wood and the toilet facilities left a lot to be desired."
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Sound familiar Town fans?
With the heated debate over the Mariners' own relocation project still raging, could anything be learnt from the way the Shropshire outfit have done it?
I'm not saying that Town should look to copy the New Bucks Head blueprints entirely – any new stadium would need to be on a much grander scale for starters.
But I left Telford's ground with a sense that it was the result of what must have been a well thought through and well executed project – and that's what Town's must to be.
The match-day experience at Buck's Head seemed to be exactly what many Mariners fans have been crying out for in recent years.
At half-time, the concourses were packed with fans queuing for a pie or a pint while watching scores from around the country roll in on Sky TVs.
Its toilets were clean and modern, while outside the ground, car parking was ample, making getting in and out of the ground relatively easy.
And, at £3 a car, it would have generated a healthy match-day revenue stream for the club.
But as all modern stadiums need to be, Bucks Head has also been built to stand on its own feet financially.
The complex boasts the 90-room Telford Whitehouse Hotel, which has been built as an integral part of the stadium.
The hotel features an impressive bar and restaurant, the usual conferencing facilities as well as a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool, solarium and beauty spa.
Admittedly, it's a departure from what was seen at grounds in the past.
But increasingly, more and more clubs and, in Telford's case, local authorities, are realising that their stadiums need to pay their way for the whole week, rather than just a couple of hours on a Saturday.
And this is crucial in Town's case.
Traditionalists will still argue that there is no need for a move – but frankly, the opportunity to redevelop Blundell Park has gone.
A new stadium is vital to the prosperity of Grimsby Town and, if done right, there is no reason why it cannot play a huge part in a bright future for the club and the area.
It would be nice – some may say fanciful – to think that the fans can play a part in shaping the new vision for the stadium by having some degree of input into how it looks and feels.
After all, a stadium has to mean something to the club and its fans.
But the bones of the new development must be sound.
It has to 'work' for Town and add something to the local area, just like it appears to be doing for Telford.
What are your views on a new stadium? Comment on this story online at www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk/sport, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can tweet me @mattdannatt