South Shields FC supremo Geoff Thompson has revealed £4million plans to build a new stand and community hub at Mariners Park.
The ambitious development is part of a bid to create a 5,000-capacity mini-stadium capable of helping the Mariners sustain full-time football.
The club has bought a huge warehouse on the other side of Shaftesbury Avenue whih they hope to demolish and build a huge new stand in its place, as well as moving the road slightly and potentially having a residential development on the site as well.
“We want this to be a great place for people to come and enjoy,” Mr Thompson said in a Q&A with fans. “The council are very supportive of what we’re trying to achieve.
“We need to go through a planning process. The plan is to build a stand to house 2,300 seats. We need to get planning approval for that.
“It will cost about £3million to build. It would be across where Shaftesbury Avenue currently is and will be a bit of a showcase.
“It will help us create a capacity of about 5,000 for the ground.
“It’s all subject to planning approval. We have to follow the right process. We’re about to submit our pre-application to the council.
“We hope our supporters are as excited about this as we are.
“It’s about trying to create a facility which everyone can come and use on a non-matchday basis as well as on matchdays.”
As well as the new £3million stand, there are plans to build a new community hub at Mariners Park, next to the 3G pitch.
The facility would cost a seven-figure sum, and will be partly funded with a number of grants.
“At the moment, the plan is to build a 10,000sqft facility,” added Mr Thompson, the football club’s chairman.”Within that there could be dance studios, a gym, perhaps a bar, and changing facilities for our 3G pitch.
“That would allow us to create an infrastucture for our Foundation, and would be used by the community.”
Mr Thompson stressed that the new stand and hub will only work should the club continue to attract people to use Mariners Park on both matchdays and non-matchdays.
He also revealed to supporters that the club’s turnover rose to £1million for the 2017/18 season with a loss of around £200,000, up from £30,000 the previous year.
“Some might be shocked but it wasn’t a surprise to us,” he added. “We are running the club properly.
“There were lots of investments over the last year in things like the academy and bringing certain staff on board full-time. The loss was fully planned for and we knew what we were doing.”
“We’ve budgeted for an increase in revenues of about 20% in the next year, so revenues of about £1.2million and we’re hoping to be within touching distance of a break-even result.”