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AFL 'on pause' as new firm drafted in to redesign Liverpool stadium

Atherden Fuller Leng's (AFL) role in the design of Liverpool Football Club's long-awaited new home is looking increasingly uncertain.

The club's new billionaire American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillette, have asked Dallas-based practice HKS to consider redesigning AFL's existing plans, which have been kicking around for almost six years ( AFL's Liverpool stadium plans placed on hold ).

HKS has already come up with initial proposals to build a huge 18,000-seat 'Kop-like' single-tier stand and there are rumours the new stadium could boast an increased capacity of around 80,000 - nearly a third more than the original plans.

Speaking to the American press recently about the revised plans for the arena in the city's Stanley Park, Hicks said: 'On the new stadium, we will honour the plans already in place, but things are being changed.

'We have talked to people and we do not want to start over with the plans again.'

However, he added: 'So far we have worked on its insides. The outside is next, but we are near to being able to announce new plans.'

Meanwhile, it appears that AFL - which succeeded in winning planning permission for its stadium proposals back in July 2004, but has not looked at the scheme for some weeks - has been left in the dark.

A source at the practice's Manchester office said: 'We are on pause at the moment and that's the only comment we can make.'

However, the decision to get HKS involved seems to have had an impact on the timetable for the project. Earlier this year it was hoped the new stadium could be open in 2009, but, according to recent reports, it is now looking more like 2010 or 2011.

by Richard Waite

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