When will Luton Town leave Kenilworth Road? New stadium plans and current Luton ground capacity explained
All eyes are on Luton Town and Kenilworth Road as they host West Ham United in their Premier League home opener after stadium upgrades
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All eyes will be on Kenilworth Road this evening as the Premier League comes to town for the first time in the stadium’s history when Luton Town welcome West Ham United.
The ground was of course due to host fellow newly-promoted side Burnley last month but that fixture had to be postponed as the Hatters finalised improvements to the stadium to meet Premier League requirements.
Even before a ball has been kicked at Kenilworth Road, the ground has gained somewhat of a cult interest from football fans fascinated by the prospect of top flight football at a venue with capacity that has been increased to around 11,500 spectators.
The club has spent around £13 million on rebuilding the Bobbers Stand for the new season, with supporters getting a first look at the new construction during the 3-2 win over Gillingham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday. Come Friday evening and the eyes of thousands in person, as well as millions more across the globe, will land on Kenilworth Road in what is set to be a night for the history books.
However, Luton and Premier League fans shouldn’t get too attached to Kenilworth Road with the club planning to build a new stadium at Power Court. The new ground is expected to be completed in 2026 having first been granted planning permission back in January 2019.
Spades in the ground have been held up by the Covid pandemic and other complications but earlier this year Hatters CEO Gary Sweet confirmed that ‘progress’ was being made - although promotion to Premier League wouldn’t ‘accelerate’ any plans.
A statement on Town’s official website said: “In preparation for its submission of the detailed planning application due to be submitted during the close season, the club’s development arm, 2020 Developments, is delighted to release new imagery of the planned new stadium at Power Court in the heart of Luton’s town centre.
“Subject to a consented detailed planning application, acting as the centrepiece of a regeneration of a 20-acre site adjacent to Luton Railway Station, the Power Court site already benefits from outline planning consent and the club has now completed land assembly for the whole site with the demolition of the last few buildings.
“Over recent months, attention has been focused on relocating the existing primary sub-station in the middle of the site, detailing ground conditions and opening up the River Lea. However, now the sub-station project is progressing it is anticipated that groundworks for the new stadium should begin by the turn of the year with the construction period for the stadium itself estimated at around 24-30 months.
"The images shown represent Power Court Stadium in its first phase of development at a capacity of 19,500, which will include around a third as safe-standing. A second phase will see another 4,000 seats or standing seats added, which can be developed as demand dictates without too much disruptive upheaval. Further technical details will be released as the application is submitted and put in the public domain.”
While the exciting new plans mark another new dawn for Luton Town in the near future, Sweet was quick to reassure supporters that the 'core characteristics' of Kenilworth Road would be captured in the new stadium. These are laid out to be 'atmospheric, so intimate and so special'.
Sweet continued: "This season, perhaps more than any other, has demonstrated the incredible relationship we all have with The Kenny and that has been the driving force behind our design work. We know everyone is desperate for the new stadium to open – as are we!
"It’s clearly a hugely complicated project but the main aim has always been to maintain the architectural quality and to deliver a stadium that replicates an essential, unique character we are all so familiar with but also fit and ready to grace the Premier League stage.”