The Ricketts bid may not have the public support of the fans, but they seem to have the money and they seem to have all the right intentions. Presumably all the other bids have those qualities too, but the Rickettses also seem to have the right connections, both at Chelsea and at Raine Group, and they’re also running the most aggressive PR campaign — perhaps by necessity rather than by choice, but that’s a minor difference.
If I were a betting man, my money would be on these guys being selected on April 18. That said, just as with transfer rumors, sometimes the actual outcome is a big surprise.
In any case, with all four bids making last-minute moves before Monday’s (April 11) bidding deadline, we have a big interview in The Athletic with Eric Nordness, who was the project lead on the redevelopment of the iconic century-old Wrigley Stadium. He would fill the same role on any redevelopment at Stamford Bridge, which they would begin “immediately” if selected — begin the project obviously, not the actual rebuild just yet.
The five-year renovation of Wrigley was certainly an impressive undertaking and accomplishment — even if not universally beloved — and that experience can only serve the bid now as they potentially undertake the even more daunting task of rebuilding Stamford Bridge.
I do recommend reading the full interview on The Athletic if you can. It’s a promising spiel and hopefully one that any winning bidder would also look to follow and accomplish. Here are some key points and highlights.
- 3 years of planning, 5 years of construction work on Wrigley (mostly during offseasons) — team kept playing there the whole time, which they would ideally want for Chelsea as well. They do understand this stand-by-stand approach may not be feasible. “Realistic” timeframe for the Bridge could also be double that (10 years).
- Idea of moving never entertained for Wrigley; would “unequivocally” not be entertained for the Bridge either
- “Full diligence” done once already on the stadium issue, three-four years ago when they first explored the idea of buying Chelsea
- Working with Populous (née HOK Sport), who were involved in the briefly lived Battersea plans for us, in addition to a million other massive projects. Already starting to work on timelines, schedules, logistics. No consultation with local authorities or fans yet, but both planned.
- The shelved plans for the Cathedral of Football (by Herzog and de Meuron) have already been reviewed. “What the ultimate visual will look like, I don’t know yet.”
- Acknowledgement that total cost could be £2b+ easily
- “This is going to be the fans’ Stamford Bridge and it needs to represent, as best as possible, an outcome that they love.”
Words are cheap. The stadium won’t be. But the intentions seem true and correct. And I would hope we still end up with something like the Cathedral plans, regardless of who the new owners are, because those were fantastic.
“Our priority is to play every season at Stamford Bridge. We are the only ones that have done this (out of 4 bidders trying to buy #CFC) & we know what the challenges are. I feel like we can do it.” Eric Nordness on Ricketts’ plan to rebuild #CFC ground:https://t.co/gW6lwcBuMw— Simon Johnson (@SJohnsonSport) April 5, 2022