English top flight soccer outfit Chelsea are looking to revive their stalling stadium upgrade plans by slashing costs by as much as UK£500 million (US$650 million), according to the New Civil Engineer.
The West London club had originally planned to demolish the existing 41,600 seater Stamford Bridge to be replaced with a new 60,000 stadium on the same site.
However, club bosses are now reportedly exploring the option of alternative sites after potential construction costs soared to UK£1 billion (US$1.3 billion), with plans put on hold in May 2018.
According to the engineering outlet, informal discussions have been held with stadium designers to explore the possibility of the project cost being halved. By moving away from Stamford Bridge this would allow costs to come down, but apparently the club’s preferred option is to stay put.
Chelsea have been granted planning permission for the demolition and construction process, with the stipulation that enabling works must begin by January 2020 or the permission expires.
Construction work must also begin by January 2023 on the site or once again the permission will expire.
In statement last year, the club cited the ‘current unfavourable investment climate’ as key reason for the plans being shelved and that ‘there has been no time frame set for a reconsideration of this position.’
The rising costs had been attributed to Stamford Bridge’s urban, centrally located site. The stadium is hemmed in by train lines and a main arterial road which means that the new stadium would encroach on the existing infrastructure.
This means that a rail overbuild, using decks to cover the lines, would see the costs rise exponentially.
Another factor in the delays to the stadium rebuild is the fact that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been unable to renew his visa to enter the United Kingdom and is said to be wary of his future investments in the club.
Chelsea had previously explored the option of a new stadium in several nearby locations such as Battersea Power Station, Earls Court and Chelsea Barracks but decided to push through with the Stamford Bridge rebuild
On the pitch, Chelsea booked their place in the Europa League final with a penalty shoot-out victory over German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals. They will face London rivals Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29th May.