Recent details have come to light about the development of Stadium MK, including plans to bring big named UK brands into the area. The development is to primarily expand the 22,000 seated stadium to allow up to 32,000 spectators at the stadium. Expansion plans have come to light after Northampton Saints Rugby Club attracted a record attendance of 21,309 fans, to the Heineken Cup game against Ulster in April.
Plans also include bringing in big named brands to the Stadium MK area, dubbing it MK1, creating a more commercial aspect to the stadium, as well as the obvious sporting aspect. To begin with the development is to include brands such as Marks and Spencer, Primark, River Island and Arcadia, but during later stages, the number of retail and leisure commercial properties will increase.
The Dons have failed to attract enough attention on their own; it’s the inclusion of other events which have brought some focus on the stadium, namely the Northampton Saints Heineken cup games. The proposed increase has been known since England’s bid for the 2018 Football World Cup, but once the bid failed, it was unsure if the expansions would still take place. MK Dons Chairman, Pete Winkelman has shown a desire to make the MK Don brand more than just a sporting icon for the city, but to also bring in commercial aspirations and create a cultural hub for the city.
All this has come from a £56million investment from the Crown Estate, which is part of their ongoing strategy to back high profile UK retail, and that includes signalling the strength of the Milton Keynes economy. This is the culmination of a four year plan by Winkelman, and has stated that the inclusion of the MK1 Shopping Park is vital for the completion of the stadium. He has also stressed that the development of the shopping centre won’t take any business from the city centre, but will merely compliment it. The development is pegged at being finished in 2012, to coincide with the start of the 2012 – 2013 seasons.
This can only bring positives in for the Dons, more attention towards the stadium will also bring with it further fans. The revenue brought in from the development can bring with it further expansions in the future. Not only a plus for the stadium, this has also brought with it increased economic and commercial aspirations to the area, creating a higher demand for UK brands within the country. Jobs being created will also help Milton Keynes economy, and the Milton Keynes residents.
The only doubt lingering in the air about the development is whether or not the stadium can be filled. But with further plans for European rugby games to be brought to the stadium, the next one being the Northampton Saints versus Munster, in January 2012, they can only help the stadium increase its stance as a world class stadium. Equally it will help secure Stadium MK and the MK1 Shopping Centre as a commercial epicentre.
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