Hearts already have more than half of the funding for their new main stand in place, with the entire redevelopment of Tynecastle set to cost between £11-12 million.
Club owner Ann Budge addressed a group of supporters in the Gorgie Suite last night to outline and discuss proposals for the venture, which will bring the capacity of the stadium to between 20-21,000 by the start of the 2017/18 campaign. Those in attendance were told that the club will announce within the next three months how the rest of the project will be funded, but the chairwoman said she was “very, very confident” about it coming to fruition. The intention is that by the time the new stand is built, in August of next year, the whole venture will have been paid for, with no bank debt whatsoever.
Budge explained that the club are working to an “aggressive timescale”, which is dependant on planning and health and safety being granted. The chairwoman is not anticipating any problems on either front.
The club will request that “two or three games” at the end of next season and the start of the following one are scheduled away from home in order to allow the maximum possible timeframe for work on the stadium to be completed over the close season and ensure Hearts do not have to play any games at a neutral venue. If Hearts qualify for Europe for the 2017/18 season, the club would look to play any July qualifiers at Murrayfield.
By the time work is complete, Hearts will have “improved concourse facilities in all stands aimed at improving the whole match-day experience”.
These could include a supporters’ bar in the undercroft of the Wheatfield Stand. Budge said she wanted the stadium to have “a campus-style feel, where people can mingle and meet.”
The new main stand will have UEFA-standard player and media facilities, while there will be new hospitality areas, including a rooftop-style restaurant looking out towards Edinburgh city centre. There are plans to implement a couple of big screens into the stadium. The new stand does not have a name as yet but the club are looking at the possibility of selling naming rights.
Budge explained that the objective is to create minimal disruption for supporters, but admitted some will be inevitable. “It will be a bit bet messy for a while,” she acknowledged.
However, she assured any concerned businesses or residents that the club “don’t have the power to close McLeod Street. Anyone worried about that, really shouldn’t be.”