Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club is hoping to try out an innovative ticketing arrangement which allows fans free public transport to the ground from within a 25-mile radius on matchdays - but only if plans for a new stadium by KSS Sports and Leisure Design are approved.
The third-division club has collaborated with the local council and two universities - Brighton and Sussex - to put together a plan for an eventual 25,000-seater stadium at Falmer near the two campuses on the edge of town. KSS director Andrew Simons said the club had looked hard at transport access and was taking a lead from the council to do its best to cut down the amount of traffic generated by the stadium, if it is approved early next year. Fans will be able to benefit from the railway station next to the site, improved transit arrangements, park and ride, and existing university bus links, covered by the cost of a match ticket and subsidised by the local authority.
The stadium will be built in two phases - the first 12,500 seats will be followed by another 12,500 seats three years from the envisaged 2002/2003 season start, dependent on the club's promotion to a higher division, and costing around £12 million more. Despite the environmentally conscious transport plan, car spaces are still necessary for disabled people, press and officials and are likely to number around 2500 for the first phase.
The new ground, envisaged as a community stadium, is in an area of outstanding natural beauty south of the A27. Accordingly, the architect attempted to 'suppress' the stadium into the rolling South Downs hillside, using cut and fill to create berms and 'merge' it into the landscape. The site is designated for business use.
kss developed the roof form, along with Stephen Morley of Modus, as a single cylindrical plane inclined to respect the slope of the valley. The main west span is 120m, 30m high at its highest.
Brighton's loyal following - celebrity followers include Des Lynam, Chris Eubank and Jamie Theakston - has latterly had to trek 75 miles for 'home' games at Gillingham. From next season, however, the club will have a small temporary home in the centre of the city modelled around an existing athletics stadium by kss. Called the Withdean stadium, its capacity will be 6000 - the minimum for a football league club.
Meanwhile kss hopes to submit a detailed planning application for the permanent Falmer stadium, including an eight-court sports hall, external all-weather sports facilities and sports-injury clinic, in December. Last week 67,000 locals voted in favour of a new stadium at Falmer. The application may be called in because of the aonb status of the site, but the architect hopes to start on site in 2001.