Nothing sells newspapers like feigning outrage, so the response from our English friends to Liverpool’s announcement that they’ll be restructuring their stadium rather than building a new one is going as expected. After all, this is a team that’s been flirting with a nice new home somewhere in the greater metropolitan era for longer than it would take to build a succession of several stadiums. It’s DC United-esque in how the appropriate stadium search has teased a fan base. The solution is also not at all surprising.
Fenway Sports Group has iconic stadium built into its name, and they recognize the value in a building. In an era in England when heritage is set aside for new construction, is it any surprise that they’re the ones who see the upside in keeping what they’ve got?
Major League Baseball’s Fenway Park isn't the best examples of architecture from its era. It was never likely to win fan votes for 'best stadium' when those other examples were still in use. It wasn’t the biggest, it wasn’t the best, but it's only one of two still in use. That has measurable value over building something new, and the same scenario is playing out in England.
For most English clubs, the ideal is something along the lines of the generic stadiums from a soccer video game or the examples from the National Football League. New is better, especially if it’s what passes for cutting edge. That’s the design choices we saw in smaller stadiums built in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and what Arsenal did with the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal leaving Highbury made transitioning from old to new acceptable for the most storied teams in the country. It was no longer enough to rebuild one section at a time.
Antiquated can easily replace storied, leading to the demolition of the Trinity Road Stand at Aston Villa. That was an edifice of professional soccer, everything a stadium should be in the classic sense. The replacement looks like it could be anywhere else.
That’s what Liverpool is now trading in, nostalgia by choice that recalls a club’s golden era alongside a game choosing new over old. Fenway Sports Group is the only ownership in England with a template for how that can work to a club’s advantage.
Corner Rating: (with 1 an old stadium no longer appealing to English fans and 11 Anfield becoming the English Fenway) 7.
Last Week's Corner: It's hard to reset a club Corner when clubs aren't playing. That said, the lack of overwhelming ratings coming out of the clasico weekend suggests our 8 should be a 7.