Chelsea FC takeover: Inside the Ricketts family’s plan to make Stamford Bridge Premier League ‘better stadium’

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he Ricketts family will begin redeveloping Stamford Bridge immediately if they win the race to buy Chelsea – and will insist they continue to play at their historic home as it rebuilds.

The owners of the Chicago Cubs have placed a new stadium at the heart of their bid for the European champions. And they believe the construction process could be completed in five years, with developers looking to renovate on a case-by-case basis.

Standard Sport can also reveal that the Ricketts see a new stadium as essential for Chelsea’s future, have already recruited architects so they can ‘get started’, are confident they can keep the club competing for the top honors during the rebuild and are more focused on making the new Bridge the ‘best’ stadium in the Premier League, even if not the biggest.

Eric Nordness led their £760million redevelopment of iconic Wrigley Field in Chicago without relocating the Cubs – and is determined to repeat that feat with Chelsea. He had already done extensive research on the bridge as part of the Ricketts’ last bid to buy out Roman Abramovich four years ago.

The American family is confident that it is better qualified than any of its competitors to successfully deliver a state-of-the-art stadium, given its experience with Wrigley Field, which was granted national landmark status.

“We have the model,” said Nordness standard sports. “I see so many uncanny similarities, including the land next to the train tracks, an urban, dense neighborhood.

“It’s a stadium that holds about the same amount – we’re 41,500, they’re around 42,000. Stamford Bridge was first built in 1876 (the ground was completed a year later), the Cubs were formed in 1876.”

It took five years to refurbish Wrigley – and the Ricketts family were determined to play the stadium throughout. They are equally determined to keep Chelsea at the bridge during the planned works.

“It would have been easier [for the Cubs] go and play baseball somewhere else,” said Nordness, who was in London this week to conduct further research. “And it would have cost less.

“But we knew the fans had a connection with Wrigley Field, we understood what kind of pain that would be. We started building in 2015. We won the World Series in 2016. Fans would have missed seeing it at Wrigley. Fans have been waiting for this for years. Generations. How horrible would that have been?

“Equivocally, we don’t want to leave Stamford Bridge. We think that’s super important. It’s going to be extremely difficult, but we’ve done it before. Our priority and our desire is to play every season at Stamford Bridge. We are the only ones (among the bidders) to have done this and we know what the challenges are. I feel we can do it.

The Ricketts family will move immediately to redevelop Stamford Bridge if they win the race to buy Chelsea

/ AFP via Getty Images

Rival consortia led by Sir Martin Broughton and Todd Boehly are also planning to redevelop Stamford Bridge without tearing down the whole stadium. Stamford Bridge will be one of the main talking points when the four shortlisted groups meet Chelsea leaders this week. A deadline of next Monday has been set for improved and final offers.

Chelsea and Raine Group, the US bank in charge of the sale, will then spend the next week deliberating on which group to present as a preferred buyer to the government in the week of April 18.

Opinions from fans and the local community will be sought by the Ricketts before any plans for Stamford Bridge are drawn up, but it is almost certain that the reconstruction will not follow the proposals for the 60,000-capacity stadium laid out by Abramovich in 2015 and later. abandoned. As a Chelsea fan for 20 years, Nordness is convinced that the bridge should retain its character.

“What I do know is that we have to be at Stamford Bridge,” he said. “We have to respect the things that are really interesting and special about it. It must be an intimate environment close to the pitch. It has to be unique compared to anything done at Spurs or Arsenal – or Wrigley Field, or wherever.

“You need the best experience – and size is not the ultimate arbiter of best. I think, in particular, intimacy with the pitch is important. You get the physicality of the game. The idea to have as many people as possible close to the field is really important.

The Ricketts have spent £760million to renovate iconic Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs

/ Getty Images

“Looking at the stadium, we think it’s essential to redevelop Stamford Bridge. Our plans are to redevelop Stamford Bridge. We know what that roadmap looks like and we’ll move fast…and we’ll get there. There’s a path towards five years and there is a path to double that, depending on how each wants to proceed.

“As soon as we can, like the minute, if we were to win this [bid], we would be on the ground to move forward and do whatever we need to do during the preparation. We’re going to hit the ground running fast. It’s our job to be really efficient in getting it to people as soon as possible.

Basically, Nordness and the Ricketts believe that building costs shouldn’t come at the expense of on-field success.

“We are used to doing something very complicated and playing during construction,” he added. “And while we were doing [it] we had the best success on the pitch that we have ever had as a club.

“Not only did we end the World Series drought, but we had the best five-year streak of player and team performance after making the play-offs in those five straight years. arguably had the best performance ever while we were playing it.

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