Nottingham Forest Football Club will be meeting with supporters over the next few weeks to hear what fans want to see as plans are finalised for the new-look City Ground.
The Reds are to build a new, modern Peter Taylor Stand, double the current stand’s capacity, as well as redevelop the surrounding area to create the biggest stadium in the East Midlands over the next three years.
Initially the new-look ground will seat 35,000 fans which could go as high as 38,000 with some tweaks to the Bridgford Stand.
At a special meeting to sell their ideas to local businesses tonight, Forest chief commercial officer David Cook said: “We are in a public and fans consultation period with a number of events set up over the next three to six weeks.
“We want this to be something they feel part of and be able to deliver what they want.
“We are looking at about a £100 million investment across the project.
“It’s well documented that we’re going to have a bigger stadium than Derby – let’s get that out there first and foremost.
“The initial phase will take us up to about the 35,000 mark. Then we will look to do a bit of work in the Bridgford Stand which will add another 2-3,000, as well invest in the other stand to bring them up to a level you’d expect to see in a Premier League football club.
“So it will be a multi-phase approach – anywhere from three to 10 years, depending on the scale we move at.
“We really view this as a venue rather than just a stadium. It could host other sporting events or other major events that we could bring here to Nottingham.”
Forest’s hopes of a return to the Premier League are over for another year.
But the club’s Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis wants to be ready for future success by building the infrastructure of a Premier League club now.
“I remember the first time myself and the chairman started here at the football club,” said Cook.
“The football club had invested a lot of money on the field but was really struggling off it in terms of investment into facilities.
“So the first thing the owner, Mr Marinikas, really challenged us was - ‘sort that stadium out’.
“The conviction from the owner is to really go for it – it doesn’t matter if we are in the Premier League or not. His commitment is that it’s the right thing to do.
“We view this as a landmark investment in Nottingham.”
Forest hope to submit planning applications for the project this summer and start work next summer, completing the Peter Taylor Stand by July 2022
The new stand will give top class views of the football.
But Cook said the three levels will also be able to plug a gap in large and flexible event facilities the city is sorely lacking.
“One of the major things we will do is develop genuine world class hospitality facilities and venue facilities,” he said.
“They will range from private boxes for 20 to a suite for up to 1,200 people that can be done theatre style or banquet style.
“We have looked at Nottingham and existing venues and we think there is a lot of scope for us.
“We will develop the three levels of the new Peter Taylor Stand as venue space.
“The ground floor will be a real exhibition venue where you could do wedding fayres or recruitment fairs up to 2,500 people.
“The first floor will see a massive box that we can slice and dice to hold anything we want.
“On the second floor we’d develop a range of offers that we could maximise on a matchday from purpose-built 10-12 seat boxes through to lounges and VIP areas and 250-300-capacity restaurants.”
Cook has been travelling round to see what other clubs currently offer and believes Tottenham Hotspur’s new state-of-the-art home is the new benchmark.
“I have had a really exciting few weeks. I have been going around loads of stadiums and venues checking out the facilities,” he said.
“I spent a day pretty much in awe at the new Tottenham stadium to see how they have just raised the bar and taken hospitality and a venue to a new level, though I think they had a couple of extra zeros on their budget. That’s the way it goes.”
He added: “We are also looking at how we develop some of the outer land for potential hotel and residential purposes. It’s really exciting times.
“We are good neighbours as well and we will ensure the futures of the rowing clubs that have been here for a long, long time on the river. We will build them something beautiful and put the clubs back in there to guarantee their future.
“We will also develop a museum which not only tells the story of the football club for tours, but also schools and community groups as well.”
The work at Forest will complement other major projects in the city such as the Island Site, and Cook added: “It’s exciting to see the other work going on.
“We believe the football club needs a strong city and the city needs a strong football club. Our futures and success is intertwined.
“When you see the plans and opportunities it feels like it’s the right time for Nottingham and the right time for us to have a go at trying to develop something really special here.”