Fans are always very emotional about their home ground, and when news of expansion and stand development was unveiled in early March at Dean Court, there was a lot of interest in how the smallest ground in the Premier League would be changed.
To see the South Stand, which is called the Ted McDougall stand, removed and rebuilt with the corners filled in over this summer is an ambitious project, but one the club feels is necessary to continue its need to attract new fans and help it to compete in the top flight.
I have heard whispers that new season ticket holders will not be at the heart of the proposals though. While the Cherries want more fans to come and see the game and support the local team, they also want to be fair to as many people as they can who are chasing elusive tickets for every home game, but who don’t have the luxury or the option of buying a season ticket. This would mean that more people perhaps get to see a game than would normally be the case. There would certainly be equal opportunities to get hold of the tickets, especially when you consider that the current season ticket holders totals around some 7,000 fans, which doesn’t leave much room for others in a stadium that currently holds 11,464 fans.
The upgraded Dean Court will have 14,529 seats and will probably only be the first step in the long term plans that could one day see a second tier on top of the Main Stand. A lot of discussion will be needed though to consider if extra hospitality rooms are required, and while we have not heard anything about safe standing, it would be something that many of the fans would like to see one day.
It does not seem to be a big gamble though to build more capacity at the commercially named Vitality Stadium. The demand to see games can be seen from the allocation of away games which have been sold out very quickly, and the points system for both home and away games has been a way to try and reward loyalty while staggering the ticket sale release. While this is not universally popular, it has at least prevented the large queues around the stadium that we used to see.
For away fans coming to Dean Court though, I imagine that there won’t be that many more seats being handed over to them as 10 percent of the new allocation is only going to be about 300 seats. It has been argued that playing in a small ground gives AFC Bournemouth some advantage, but others have said the smaller revenue earned from the ticket sales puts them as a disadvantage. It is all about growing at the right pace though and for where the Cherries are at the moment, it is clear to see that there is reason to start building more seats. The way the team is playing as well means I expect that match days will see quite a few new faces roaming around the facilities in 2016-17, as a few more people come to see what Premier League football is all about.
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