In a recent interview, Donna-Marie Cullen, the executive director, revealed that the Tottenham riots were a key trigger to keep the new stadium in Tottenham. Before this event, the club were considering moving outside of Tottenham. This was mainly due to finances but also administration issues. But, upon the occurrence of the riots, the club decided they had to stay put. It’s possible to see how the new stadium is important financially, but this new light reveals that it could mean a whole lot more.
The Importance of Tottenham’s New Stadium
A stadium brings to mind a place full of people, all united together in their love for the game. At a lower level, most of that crowd would be locals and most likely would know one another. They turn up to every home match, spend their money at the local restaurants and bars and purchase merchandise. Thus, it is acceptable to suggest how a stadium may bring people together and help the local community financially.
With the construction of the new stadium, this sense of community is retained. The stadium hasn’t been moved away from the High Road. Instead, the businesses that thrive on match days can remain open. With the exception of Archway Steel, most local business owners were happy to have the new stadium in pretty much the same location. Furthermore, the increased capacity means that these places will access a much higher footfall.
It’s unlikely that the whole community can really access all football matches. Tickets for Premier League matches have been frozen, but still are expensive for the common fan. Football used to be a working man’s game. Price was not usually a barrier for locals to watch their local team. However, this is the modern era where clubs are no longer sustained locally. They need their national and international fans. Nevertheless, there is only so much supply. Even the big matches at the new stadium will sell out. This means that people, and undoubtedly those less affluent, will miss out.
Without diving too far into the issues of the Tottenham riots, it is still evident that the new stadium is more a symbol than anything of substance. The aftermath involving looting was the desperate attempts of deprived people to acquire wealth. These people will not see as much benefit as the club does from the new stadium. It is likely that the club will employ local people and this may help many people’s livelihoods. Nevertheless, it is not going to solve the poverty in Tottenham.
If the stadium doesn’t help enough locals financially, it still may represent the idea of unity. The club retains its Tottenham identity, uniting with fans instead of moving the stadium. Within the stadium, there is a sense of unity in fans coming together with all their different backgrounds and culture. Football can still be an activity that helps transcend the boundaries between rich and poor, through different ethnicities and nationality and gender. Keeping the stadium in the same area definitely allows for the potential for all this. But, realising these ideals is a different matter.
Some of the new features and services of the new stadium aren’t particularly representative of the local population. Take the proposed cheese room, which is part of the larger Tottenham Hotspur ‘premium’ matchday experience. Only a privileged selection of fans will see certain parts of this new stadium. It compromises those initial ideas. It may be that the club needs to offer the corporate experience, as it did at White Hart Lane. However, this felt less imposing.
The Tottenham riots did ensure that the new stadium stayed in Tottenham. However, it is unclear how far the new stadium will serve the local community. The words of Cullen suggest great ideas, building the stadium to serve the people, to ease the disharmony, to show a kind of synergy. However, with the escalating prices of football matches and even football kits, the club appear less in sync with the local community than at first glance.