Quins aiming for 20,000 in expansion plans

Fan base: The club have sold 8,000 season tickets already

Fan base: The club have sold 8,000 season tickets already

First published in News Richmond and Twickenham Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Harlequins Rugby Club hope to turn the Stoop into a 20,000-capacity stadium after revealing ambitious expansion plans.

The club celebrated 50 years at the famous ground in October and chief executive David Ellis said he wanted the club to spend another half-century there.

Having already sold a record 8,000 season tickets for the coming season, the initial plan is to renovate the North Stand in three years, expanding capacity from the current 14,800 to 16,800.

Mr Ellis was ambitious the Twickenham club would be able to expand further to 20,000 within 10 years.

He said: "The Stoop is one of the best grounds in European club rugby.

"We do have ambitions to grow our capacity to 20,000, but are realistic in terms of how long this will take.

"We want to ensure that any evolution of the ground has a positive impact on our local community and surrounding area with everybody benefiting from the developments, which will be at the forefront of all of our plans.

"It’s a really exciting opportunity, for both Harlequins and the local community and one that we are looking forward to seeing come to fruition."

With the club averaging around 90 per cent of the stadium's capacity, they are currently looking for people to draw up artist impressions for the North Stand renovation.

In October last year, the "temporary" South Stand was granted planning permission to expand its capacity from 4,100 to 4,533 seats.

St Margarets and North Twickenham Councillor Alexander Ehmann said Harlequins' success was good news and brought benefits to the rest of Twickenham.

He added: "However, any development of the Stoop needs to be sensitive to the needs of local residents, both during the construction phase and regarding the potential impact of larger crowds on match days.

"Councillor Ben Khosa, Councillor Geoff Acton and myself stand ready to work with Harlequins to make sure that any changes are formed in partnership with the local community."

A spokesman for Heatham Alliance, the local community network, said: “With developments going ahead at Twickenham Station and Brewery Wharf and the proposed expansion on the Richmond College site as well, the big issue for Twickenham is how to manage the extra traffic. 

“Harlequins and Richmond Council need to start talking seriously about the implications for vehicle traffic, pedestrians, the local community and other road users, to find a long-term solution and avoid adding yet further problems to our already congested roads.

“We look forward to a positive dialogue with Harlequins and the council that produces a win-win for the club and the community.”

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