Building for capacity at Bramley-Moore Dock

Martin O'Connor 22/01/2019 33comments  |  Jump to last

With the survey and road show during November 2018, the plans for a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock seem to be coming ever more a reality. Quickly following on from the survey, Everton announced that they were looking at an initial capacity for the new Stadium of 52,000, with the ability to raise this to 60,000 if demand dictates.

Before we go any further, the Club say that the 52,000 figure “Is our ‘proposed’ capacity and it is what we are currently working towards. It is important to emphasise that the final capacity and design will be subject to further engagement and consultation.” — Everton club statement, 20 December 2018.

So the proposed figure of 52,000 is not yet set in stone but, on consideration, I think it is a good and realistic figure. However, some fans say that 52,000 is lacking ambition and the club should be aiming for the 60,000 mark now.


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It would be great to have a stadium of 60,000 or, as we all would have, 61,878. It is said by advocates of a bigger stadium that the Club has around 32,000 season-ticket holders plus a 10,000 season-ticket waiting list. So this would make 42,000 fans already in Bramley Moore, before away fans, premium seats, boxes and walk ups are taken into account. But, when you look at it a bit more closely, what the Club has proposed seems to be a more reliable barometer for where we are as a Club.

Everton’s average attendances over the last 10 seasons have been:

2017-18 - 38,797
2016-17 - 39,310
2015-16 - 38,124
2014-15 - 38,406
2013-14 - 37,732
2012-13 - 36,358
2011-12 - 33,288
2010-11 - 36,039
2009-10 - 36,725
2008-09 - 35,667

Figures are from Everton Bramley-Moore stadium capacity proposals are a victory for idealists and realistsLiverpool Echo 20 December 2018

Even with such good healthy attendances, we are still looking at a leap of around another 14,000 fans to fill a 52,000-seat stadium. This is were we can go back to the season ticket holders and waiting list. With around 32,000 season ticket holders a 52,000 seat stadium would still have 20,000 seats to fill. 3,000 would go to away fans and, if we had 5,000 premium seats and boxes, we are now up to 40,000.

Although the Club have 10,000 fans on a season-ticket waiting list, it is, as most lists not comprehensive. Not everyone on the waiting list will take up the opportunity of a season ticket. So if 7,000 fans on the waiting list take up a season ticket (which is about the norm), we now have 47,000 seats taken. This would then leave 5,000 seats for walk up. When you consider the club keep around 4,000 seats at Goodison for non season ticket holders, this seems about right.

When one considers that most of the people who take these tickets are probably on the season ticket waiting list already, then these fans will already have taken a season ticket for the new stadium from the waiting list. So the majority of the 5000 walk up tickets will still need to be sold to entirely new people.

So it would seem that the 52,000 proposal covers the match-going fan-base (season-ticket, waiting list, walk up and premium seating). Obviously success on the pitch and ticket pricing can influence the growth in attendances and I think that this is were the proposal to have the option to expand to 60,000 comes in. If demand can be shown to be there, which success on the pitch will bring, then the capacity can be raised. It is encouraging to hear Keith Harris at the Annual General Meeting state that the Club is looking at safe standing for the extra capacity if legislation changes in the future.

Before we finish, it has to be noted that although teams such as West Ham United and Manchester City (with fan-bases similar to ours) have bigger grounds than the proposed 52,000 the Club have floated, there are two other factors to consider. West Ham are in London with all the attractions that brings, while the transformation of Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour came in another financial time and catapulted the Club on to a world stage. Even with the above advantages, both West Ham and City do not regularly fill their stadiums to capacity. As I watch the blues home and away, I can vouch that empty seats can be seen when we play at both clubs. The Empty spaces around the Etihad when we played there in December were actually quite shocking.

52,000 seems a reasonable figure from the Club for an iconic stadium on the Banks of the Royal Blue Mersey with the fans up close to the pitch, which architect Dan Meis is adamant will happen. An iconic ground on the Banks of the Royal Blue Mersey, full to the rafters every week with the fans close up to the pitch to enable us to make it an intimidating atmosphere for opposing teams seems ideal.

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Reader Comments (33)

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Danny Broderick
1 Posted 22/01/2019 at 21:11:22
If we build a 52,000 capacity stadium, every time we fill it will be a missed opportunity. Also, match day tickets will have to be a higher price, as we will have less seats to sell to service any debt that the new stadium will bring.

The time for doing major work, like adding seats, is now. If we only have the option of adding capacity further down the line, it might never happen.

Steve Carse
2 Posted 22/01/2019 at 23:13:14
Martin, you've omitted one very important matter in your article. And that is that the 52,000 includes the additional 4,000 assigned under the 'hospitality/corporate' banner. The extra capacity being provided to the traditional fan is only 9,000 more than currently exists at Goodison Park. Once you include this in your calculation, then Bramley-Moore Dock affords no space at all for the 'walk-up' supporter or visitor!
Steve Carse
4 Posted 22/01/2019 at 23:31:47
Apologies. Reading too late in the evening I think. I have re-read the article and see you do note the increased hospitality accommodation. But you have still ignored the new stadium effect which, when applied to current attendances, would see crowds at Bramley-Moore Dock already at the 45-47,000 level, and that without the hospitality seating. Add this 4-5,000 in and you're already up to the 52,000.... so there is no planning for success and a resultant expansion of the fanbase and additional visitors.
Derek Thomas
6 Posted 23/01/2019 at 00:08:48
I have to agree with Danny @ 1, the time is now. Also the proposed extension to 60,000+ is with safe standing.

For safe standing to mean anything it has to be behind the goal... our goal, not tacked on up in the gods somewhere.

Anyway, it'll never happen, there might be an initial novelty demand, but I can't see 8,000 people wanting to stand for 2 hours, every game, every season.

Gordon Crawford
7 Posted 23/01/2019 at 00:23:10
Derek, I'll gladly stand, pal. It's what I've enjoyed most when watching football. The atmosphere is electric. :)

I also think 52,000 is too small.

Jay Harris
8 Posted 23/01/2019 at 02:00:38
52,000 is okay for an average attendance but what about when we get derbies, the Manchester clubs, the London clubs etc?

I would imagine those gates to be capable of 65,000 so we are thinking small and losing an opportunity.

I really believe that 60,000 capacity is required from the off.

Brian Murray
9 Posted 23/01/2019 at 06:33:17
Think big for once, Everton. The owner may be very weak on football matters, ie, choice of manager, but surely in the never-ending evolution of football, he can see the case for increased hospitality and a 60k stadium.

Plus make sure away fans are up in the gods, preferably behind a Perspex collapsible screen so noise is a minimum. Kopites would loathe that with their smart-arse banners.

Please don't waste another great opportunity.

Derek Thomas
10 Posted 23/01/2019 at 09:48:14
I think it's too small too.

It's standing, Gordon @7, but not as we know it, not as we knew it in the 60s – the clue's in the name 'safe'.

Historically, the peak games , apart from the odd cup tie, were against Liverpool and the Mancs.

Finance won't be easy and is quite possibly a biggest restrictor on capacity, not lack of demand. It's widely quoted that those last 10k seats are more expensive than the first 10k, especially on a somewhat restricted footprint...

Somebody has done those finance / demand / space / ticket returns sums – 52,000 it is and I don't believe a word of those 'we can increase it later' claims.


Sam Hoare
11 Posted 23/01/2019 at 10:11:35
I'd rather think sensibly than big. It's not a dick-measuring contest. If we build a stadium that we can't fill, then we risk losing more money and having a poor atmosphere.

I'm not saying that 52,000 is the right size only that it's not just a case of 'bigger is better'. Presumably they have done the attendance projections; if they think there will only be demand for 50,000 tickets every week, then there's little point building a 60k stadium.

Having said all that, I'd hope for 55,000.

James Ebden
12 Posted 23/01/2019 at 10:13:18
Same old comments. Yes, we may fill a 60k stadium for 3 or 4 games a season. However, the other potential 20+ games may see us with 10k+ unfilled seats.

Given how much those extra seats will cost to build, we will struggle to service the debt, and the knock-on effect will be a complete freeze in player recruitment, like Spurs are seeing due to their over-run.

Your choice: 60k seats and a shit squad for years, or 52k seats and the chance to build and progress?

Tony Everan
13 Posted 23/01/2019 at 11:40:01
55,000 - 60,000 is a figure that I would be happy with, 52k seems very conservative considering the amount of new interest the stadium would generate. There is great potential for more walk-ups and visitors. If you add on a bit of success for the club due to increased revenue streams, more bums on seats would follow too.

I think the club could sell 45-50k season tickets for the new iconic venue without breaking a sweat.

Kevin Prytherch
14 Posted 23/01/2019 at 13:39:50

How about:

1) 52,000 and less potential revenue for players and less attractive proposition for players, therefore less opportunity to progress.

2) 60,000 and greater potential revenue for players and a better proposition for players and therefore greater opportunity to progress.


Eddie Dunn
15 Posted 23/01/2019 at 16:26:56
Martin, the reason I would go for a higher capacity, closer to 60,000, is the fans that roll up (me, as I live 140 miles away) won't roll-up if they think there is no chance of a ticket. Getting them on StubHub or on the ToffeeWeb tickets thread is fine, but it isn't ideal.

If we all knew the club would definitely have 5,000 or 10,000 tickets on general sale, then more less frequent (under 5 games a season) fans would try to get one. If there is a big game these days, there will be zero chance of a ticket for the occasional attendee.

In the days of paying at the turnstile, the range of fans was probably more varied. There was no commitment to once-a-fortnight for so many of us and, over time, with less opportunity, many of those fans have been lost to the club.

I have been back home many times over the years and thought about going to the match but have seen it sold-out and thought no more of it. I would think we could add 10,000 every week, no problem, and then wouldn't it be great to have a chance of a derby ticket or Man Utd, Man City, etc. No-one expects us to get 50-60,000 for a visit of Watford but not many clubs would.

However, for Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Man City and possibly one or two others, the ground would be sold-out. We can always offer the likes of Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle more away tickets too if we think it would fill the ground.

The mentality of clubs changed with the all-seater stadium and the keenness of the clubs to get their money in early. This has been to the detriment of those on lower incomes, those who live further away, or those with young families and less time. Perhaps a change of mindset from the club would encourage more fans from the groups I mention.

After all, look around at Goodison Park or many of the Premier League grounds and marvel at the grey hair, and shiny heads. And people wonder why the atmosphere is so quiet. (I am 58 with a shiny head, by the way...)

James Ebden
16 Posted 23/01/2019 at 17:56:54
Kevin #14,

Jeez, I wonder how Juventus manage then

And you are working on the ASSUMPTION that we will regularly fill 60k in order to get this extra revenue. The fact is for any game against lower opposition, or mid-week games, or useless Carabao Cup games, we will struggle to get near 50k in there. Completely wasting the extra 10-12k seats that we paid near £100m for.

Filling them for 5 or 6 games a season doesn't justify the loss we will make on the other games from servicing the far higher debt. Why is this so hard for people to understand? Do you seriously think the club hasn't crunched all this data in arriving at the number that gives the best combination of revenue for the lowest Debt?

Dan Davies
17 Posted 23/01/2019 at 18:48:03
Professionals have done their homework on this with regards to the footprint of the stadium and also the huge cost of building there. They have done the calculations and come up with what I feel is a sensible approach to the capacity.

Also, the design apparently is meant to be intimate so the noise generated by the fans is intimidating to the opposition.

52,000 rising another 10,000 if need be is the club being realistic and covering its arse if they got it wrong!

Also, rail seating being passed for the Premier League is also a consideration the club has looked at. I think they're covering all the bases here? Makes sense to me anyway.

Eddie Dunn
18 Posted 23/01/2019 at 19:39:08
Dan, remember that the ground would be able to host semi-finals, and other events, like boxing, rugby and pop concerts. All these things would increase revenue and change the calculations.
Kevin Prytherch
19 Posted 23/01/2019 at 19:45:27
James - let's compare the stadium to an Italian team with far greater merchandising, corporate facilities and sponsorship than us. Different country, poor comparison. Find a club in England in a historically deprived area who are consistently successful with a small stadium - Liverpool. And they're increasing theirs.

£500 million for 52,000 seats vs £600 million for 61,878 seats. Sounds like a no-brainier to me.

Read the post above yours regarding demand.

New stadium effect + current waiting list + increased corporate and hospitality + better location + unrestricted views.

We'll easily get , per game and will be selling ourselves short. As for quoting Carabao Cup, does that mean we should decrease Goodison Park's capacity to 30,000 to accommodate these games?

We sell out 95% of the ground with 30% of people's views obstructed by pillars, you think we'll only get 7,000 or 8,000 more with a modern stadium?


Paul Richards
20 Posted 23/01/2019 at 21:27:56
James Ebden – "the best combination of revenue for the lowest Debt?"

I wonder did you read the piece Paul the Esk put out with his brilliant analysis of the real cost of large versus small capacity for Bramley-Moore Dock? I think he says the exact opposite of what you're saying here. He concludes:

"The argument put to me against a 60,000 capacity is either cost, demand or a combination of the two.

"On cost, I acknowledge there’s an additional capital cost, but I’d argue that’s countered by the benefit of much smaller required increase in ticket prices to fund the debt and provide income for the footballing side of the business, and an increased likelihood of full-capacity attendances, leading to future increased revenues over time.

"I’d argue that this greater initial affordability increases the likely demand for tickets, a demand which on many occasions I have provided reasonable arguments based on evidence to suggest 60,000 is entirely achievable."

Read the full article: Analysis of the proposed 52,000 capacity for Bramley-Moore, including season ticket pricing

Geoff Cadman
21 Posted 23/01/2019 at 23:06:36
My heart says 61,878; my head says something between the two. Cost and funding being very important.

I remember similar discussions when Liverpool where going to build on Stanley Park. Planned at 60,000, many wanting 80,000. The build cost would have doubled.

Dan Meis's initial plans are to build only one tier. This could be due to restrictions of the World Heritage Site or just too reduce costs. With the longer Stadium axis across the Dock (215 metres) Arsenal's, multi-tier, 60,000 Emirates would be too big for this footprint. IMO, the site, in this format, will only accommodate the 52,000 planned capacity.

How much capacity will increase if safe standing is introduced is reliant on the results of the government review. Even if passed, it will be gradual increases over a number of years. The rules at the moment allow 47 spectators to stand in a 10-m² area. From the initial Stadium plans, general seating is 460 x 800 mm; this would give a maximum ratio of 1.5 to 1.6 per seat. To increase capacity by 10,000 would require 20,000 seats converting to 30,000 standing places.

Dan Davies
22 Posted 23/01/2019 at 23:18:35
Eddie, it's being designed as a football stadium first and foremost plus – there is a lot of competition locally for those type of events.

Obviously those events would be fantastic to host but they're not our bread and butter.

As for The Esk... what the fuck does he know? He's in the same boat as the rest of us! Guesswork and opinion based on homework.

Steve Brown
23 Posted 24/01/2019 at 00:27:56
Derek @ 10, if you get a chance, visit one of the German grounds and go in the safe standing section. It is an amazing experience, the fans are there well before the match, even in winter. It will definitely change your views and get the atmosphere back to what it was in the past.
Anthony Murphy
24 Posted 24/01/2019 at 01:27:45
I think in simple terms that the 52k capacity has been decided based on financial and site constraints rather than number crunching and season ticket projections.

I've got no doubt we'll fill 52k in the current climate for the vast majority of games. Additionally, the idea of expanding capacity in the future is (for me) a non-starter. It just won't happen.

Given the conservative capacity, I hope the plans are world class. If what is planned looks a bit shit, it'll be a massive anti-climax and we will all start kicking off before a spade is in the ground...

Derek Thomas
25 Posted 24/01/2019 at 02:11:16
Steve @ 23, nothing I'd like more, please send me Mystic Meg's phone number, my old legs might not be so happy with it though. To say nothing of all those 'kin great flags obstructing my view, I can get one of those in the Main Stand.

I take your point though. What with Brexit and all the other stuff going on and despite what they have in Scotland or Dortmund, I can't see any Government having the time or inclination, especially in this modern Health & Safety, snowflake environment, to reduce what has been the accepted safety standard for nearly 30 years...

It would, especially for Tories, be an admission that they were wrong in the first place... in fact, they are more likely to fit seatbelts to football seats.

James Ebden
26 Posted 24/01/2019 at 09:48:08
Paul #20,

Yes, I read Paul the Esk's post, and laughed my way through the entire thing. There is a reason he doesn't post on Grand Old Team any more, because he's been hounded out by everyone seeing through his utter crap, posted as fact, when in reality he is just guessing like everyone else and using completely flawed assumptions. He dresses it up in nice sentences so that people buy the crap he is selling.

I'm a CIMA qualified accountant, and my day job is financial modelling of large projects, so I have a vague idea what I'm talking about.

The Esk's posts are very basic, and assume a flat ticket price and full stadiums, vs fixed repayments. So yes, 10k extra seats x £X per ticket x Y games per season will get you an additional revenue figure. And this will be higher than the repayment figures, making it look a no brainer. However, the club will have done a proper sensitivity analysis of this, looking at trends in attendance for us and similar clubs, for all fixture types and they will have projected an estimate of the revenue we will get. They will also have factored in other revenue streams from the stadium, sponsorship, merchandise etc. They have access to way more data, and actual data that the Esk doesn't, yet people seem to believe him more – bizarre.

People seem to think that we will suddenly get thousands of walk-up tickets sales from moving, on top of the 10k waiting list. You don't think that the majority of the current walk-up tickets are purchased by people waiting for a season ticket? And the biggest factor that will ultimately affect our attendance is the performance on the pitch. Doesn't matter how big the stadium is, or how nice – if the team are playing crap football ticket sales won't be as high. And if we don't consistently get top 6 and European football, we lose a huge chunk of revenue. You can't factor that money into the equation as it is not guaranteed. If we achieved it, it will boost the transfer kitty, but have no bearing on the stadium.

Plus, we aren't a one-team city, so general premier league ticket growth trends can't be just assumed for us. The simple fact is our neighbours are experiencing vastly more success than us on the pitch and playing far better football, hence my previous comments that they will hoover up the vast majority of the neutral tourist tickets. And the same applies for a large chunk of the corporate hospitality. A trip to a game at Liverpool will just hold more prestige for some companies than a trip to Everton – it's a harsh truth, but it's something that needs to be factored in.

Our fans are blinkered. They think we are the best, we have the biggest fan base and that if we build it, they will come. The reality may be slightly different, and it's the clubs job to see through this and arrive at the correct conclusion.

Kevy Quinn
27 Posted 24/01/2019 at 13:00:28
Eddie – Well said and fully agree.

I live in Ireland and heading to the Wolves game next week. The cost of flights, hotel, match ticket and spending money would cover a season ticket.

The match ticket is £43 to sit behind a post with obstructing views. In a new stadium, I and many others would go for more games but at the minute the only tickets available are poor view seats. So why go to such expense for a poor view of the game?

In a new stadium there will be lots of fans who will buy spare-of-the-moment tickets for various games who currently don't due to not wasting money for terrible seats.

Paul Richards
28 Posted 24/01/2019 at 17:37:01
James, thanks for throwing wide the curtains of delusion that I foolishly allowed to obscure the truth about the new stadium, and Paul the Esk's extensive and hugely informative postings on the subject to date. I feel like a Remainer who has finally been shown the true path forward by a wise and knowledgeable Brexiter... or do I mean that the other way round?

You are right on one aspect, that we don't really have the facts driving the decision, and so can tell ourselves whatever we want to terms of what are the controlling criteria. Whether you have faith or not in the Club's sensitivity analysis means very little to me. Personally, I think it's driven by limitations of the site, its footprint, and perhaps Heritage considerations that are making it impossible to go larger than 52k. And I'm highly dubious of ever seeing it rise to 60k. And calling it "The People's Project" has actually put me right off.

But your ad hominem attacks on Paul the Esk do you very little credit in my eyes. I think he does an excellent job on the Everton Business Matters podcast and I'm saddened that Roger Armstrong has just up and left that august body of work — or perhaps he finally saw though the tissue of lies from Paul the Esk, and stormed out... GOT-style???

I know I should be impressed by your expert credentials, but the potential for accountancy bias, spin and ultimately disastrous catastrophe is all too familiar, as in any other industry, so forgive me if I don't buy into your stated position. I think it's called an Argument from Authority.

West Ham and Man City may provide proof of your position, added to the possibility that match attendance patterns could be destined to change dramatically in the near future (online streaming?).

Dermot Byrne
29 Posted 24/01/2019 at 18:12:38
James... bit aggressive but I like what you say.
Darryl Ritchie
30 Posted 25/01/2019 at 06:34:30
I just looked up Bradley-Moore Dock on Google Earth, and I can't help thinking that as well the major task in the building of the stadium, there will need to be a huge amount of infrastructure developed in the surrounding areas.

I take it that the stadium is to be the key, but is the infrastructure development going to be in sync with the stadium? Is the club on the hook for all of it? The city? Or a third party? Just curious.

This all may be common knowledge to you locals, but I'm a long ways away and will probably never see a live match, so where they play is not so important to me as how they play.

One other question: What is was that old brick tower-like building at the foot of the dock used for?

Paul Hughes
31 Posted 25/01/2019 at 09:28:55
Darryl (30). The old brick tower is a hexagonal clock tower. Built so that the time could clearly be seen from both the dock and river sides. It's a listed building, so will remain a feature of any development.

If you want to have a look at other proposed development, check out this site 10 Streets is an initiative led by the city council.

Martin O'Connor
32 Posted 25/01/2019 at 16:27:09
The comments made about the site footprint size and world Heritage are very valid and something I forgot to put in to the article. The site although iconic probably does restrict the size of the stadium.

I think we will actually end up at around 54,000. I agree some fans have a over optimistic view of the size of our fan base as a couple of comments have noted.

Paul [The Esk]
33 Posted 25/01/2019 at 18:50:26
The fact that the club suggests the maximum capacity could be 62,000 is a tacit acknowledgement of the potential demand. There are many factors regarding demand as we all know including pricing and the quality of the product offered (the quality of football, the match day experience, the types and quality of the different experiences offered to different categories of fans/spectators).

What is inescapable is that a lower capacity will mean higher prices thereby suppressing demand. I have argued that a higher cost, higher capacity stadium should carry no more debt, the higher cost is to be met by shareholders.

We also must look at the marginal increase in income. A lower capacity stadium will produce a lower marginal income after financing costs under the model I offer, thus reducing the resources available to the club.

I'm not for a moment pretending filling 60,000 seats every week can be achieved without huge thought and effort. However that's exactly what successful businesses do, build capacity and create a market for their goods and services.

I've yet to meet a successful business or owners of a business who said "we should have started smaller". Almost without exception they'll say "we'd be even bigger today had we been bolder initially".

A high cost, lower capacity stadium is a significant risk to Everton as a business, and importantly, our commitment to affordable football.

Tom Hughes
34 Posted 26/01/2019 at 07:16:16
If the site is capacity restricted for whatever reason, then I'd have to question why we're even considering it. The loop site is still available, and can comfortably accommodate 55k (seats), without the expense, and is right on top of the city centre.

If we're concerned that one day we might even need greater than 62k, then the dock is surely a complete non-starter.

If the club shows that 62k seats will add say 50-75% to the construction cost, or that according to their data we're already near our ceiling in terms of attendances then the your argument begins to fall flat . new stadium effect or not. No doubt they'll claim one or both of these factors.

Meanwhile, as ever, the redevelopment option is completely ignored. The only one that offers the real opportunity to suck it and see, and at a fraction of the cost. No business case apparently . as Dan Meis might say go figure?!

Geoff Cadman
35 Posted 27/01/2019 at 23:49:51
Martin, the hope is, I think, that the dock location will raise our global appeal.

Whenever you mention Liverpool abroad, you will be asked about the Beatles and the RS.

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