Thursday, November 09, 2006

A tale of two stadiums….

Or is it ‘stadia’? Who knows…..
Anyway, I was watching the telly on Sunday, a rugby union international was on and England were being demolished by the All Blacks. The game was pants – but what struck me was, what a really fantastic stadium Twickenham is. The South Stand is all but up – and when it is all finished in a few months time it will also house a grand hotel. The last bit of the ‘Project Twickenham’ development is costing around £85 million – it would have been more, but the RFU decided that they couldn’t afford the original quote of over £100 million, so redesigned it to something they could afford.

It now holds over 82,000 people – and is the biggest stadium in England. Twickenham is now a perfect tiered bowl, everyone gets a fantastic view of the action on the field, but behind the scenes there are superb restaurant, conferencing and bar facilities – so you can drown your sorrows after England have been stuffed again.

What really amazes me though is the way the RFU have quietly and efficiently gone about the business of rebuilding the entire stadium over a period of years. Most of the work has been privately financed through ticket sales, partnership deals and television contracts. They've built stands when they had the money to do it. All of the work has been carried out without the bungling interference of busy-body, photo-opportunity politicians, inept & craven administrators and the bizarrely narrow funding criteria of the National Lottery Nazis…..

Compare and contrast with the shenanigans up the road at Wembley, the home of football and the embarrassment of an entire nation….

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