Boy this whole Fenway connection just gets deeper, doesn't it?
Today, Liverpool announced through it's incumbent bullhorn Muppet Ian Ayre that they will seek to expand Anfield instead of building a whole new one on Stanley Park or coming up with a groundshare with Everton or all the other things we've heard in the past couple years about how this would go. Some are happy, most are reserving judgement until we all see an actual crane doing something somewhere.
I love the spin on this. Ayre and the club would have us believe that this all came about after careful weighing of all the options and furious discussion. That this is the course that FSG and everyone involved agrees is the best. Which of course is total bullshit. They only came to this conclusion when it became apparent that there was no way in hell they were going to be able to afford to build a whole new stadium, as the cost was getting to be north of $1.5 billion (I'm not convinced Werner and Henry know how much a pound is worth yet).
It's the same thing they did when they took over the Red Sox. I was living in Boston when they did. For years, the Red Sox under previous ownership and looked for options to build a new Fenway Park, as the old one was a crumbling dump (and still kind of is). When the city denied them land in Southie, the South Bay, across the street from the current stadium (or the exorbitant cost of buying land and demolishing buildings in Boston's Back Bay made everyone have a heart attack), and whatever other options they explored, they rolled out in front of the media to announce they would remake Fenway Park and really this was their preference all along. Because saying, "Well, this is all we can do and we'll just have to update this hole because we've got no other choice," isn't going to drum up a lot of enthusiasm from those you need to help you pay for it, i.e. the city.
So that's where Liverpool are, but in the end, that's ok. An expansion to 60,000 is what the new stadium would have ended up being, and sounds about right. And expanding Anfield, as messy as it might be, is still going to be cheaper to get those extra 15k seats than getting a whole new building. While they haven't answered how they're going to cram new luxury suites into the new look Anfield (that's where the real cash is), I'm sure they can figure something out.
There are obviously problems. Anfield for those who haven't been is literally wedged into terrace housing. This isn't Wrigley Field or Fenway which are in residential neighborhoods but have cut out their own space with parking and bars and other things around it. It's literally in few people's yards. If you're at home right now, just look across the street and imagine a football stadium in the alley behind those houses. That's how tight it is. So where they go is kind of a mystery. I would have to imagine a re-doing or expansion of the Main Stand to make it look more like the Centenary Stand is the first order of business. The Main stand is the one the camera comes from, the one you don't see really on games from Anfield. It doesn't have a second deck like the one across from it, and no suites. There's a small parking lot behind it -- not as big as the one behind the Centenary which isn't large either -- so there might be some room to play with.
Some may haul that 60k capacity isn't enough. But I wonder about that. While Liverpool have a global reach of sorts -- not as big as some of their English and European counterparts -- it's one thing to have a global brand and another to find 60k to go to a match every week if not more. I have no doubt that LFC can fill out 60k for every match. I would have been unsure about the 75k that was floated when the new stadium was the plan.
In the end, it's only a good day for the club if something actually happens. Because we've heard this all before. And even then, it's probably years away, and even longer before it makes a difference on the pitch.