Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yesterday's huge announcement about East Fife's ambitious plans to move to a new stadium came as a huge surprise to most of us. A very welcome surprise, but a bit of a shock none the less.

Now that most of us have had time to ponder and reflect upon these developments, and with details pretty scant at present anyway, it's time to turn our attention to what we want to see from the new stadium.

All we know so far, is that the plans are for an initial capacity of 3000, with an artificial playing surface, training grounds, a plan for community use and a whole retail and leisure development tagged on to the complex.

It all sounds great.

The proposed site is ideally situated for road transport, not so much for public transport, but hopefully at least a very regular scheduled bus or shuttle bus would be in operation by the time that things are complete.

Better car parking facilities are a must. The ones at Bayview Stadium are far from ideal and you do get the impression that this was one of the last things on the minds of the developers when it came to the planning of our current home. Hopefully free parking as well, as I get so pissed off with extortionate rip off parking at lower league grounds (hello, Airdrie). I could live with a token charge if season ticket holders got it free.

Decent car parks will also open up the opportunities to have further car boot sales and even farmers markets and other fair type events.

One thing is certain with the new stadium. The plan is for seven days a week usage. This will involve community use for both football and leisure.

The plastic pitch is the thing I hate most but I can certainly live with that. I would love a real grass pitch, but I guess the community usage plans do kind of dictate that artificial is the only way to go to sustain it.

With the new state of the art pitches out there, it shouldn't actually be too bad. Vancouver Whitecaps will be adopting such a pitch when they move up to MLS next season and from what I've initially seen of this, it's very acceptable and nothing to be worried about. Long gone are the horrible high bounces of the early ones that we saw at Stirling Albion's Annfield back in the day.

It's not just going to be the football pitches that will be looked at to draw in the local community and rightly so in this current climate. We need to re-engage the Levenmouth public and we'll do that by offering a top restaurant and social club at the ground providing food, drink and entertainment all week long. I'd love to see a carvery on matchdays, similar to that which AFC Wimbledon have launched this season.

The site of the new stadium is certainly within reach of a number of pubs, but I feel it is important for East Fife to establish their own identity here and to give us the kind of set-up that I've so often envied from a number of the Highland clubs where the football team really is an important and valued part of the local community.

Many of us miss the old Bayview Social Club. Sure it was nothing special and a lot of the memories are tinged with false nostalgia, but the whole ethos of it is missing at the new stadium and we desperately need that connection back.

I'm sure the new stadium will have good office space, but hopefully the Club plan to have a proper Club Shop. The current one is good and serves the purpose, but I'd love to see something more substantial. A proper shop and not a portacabin.

I also have a dream. For the future, not now!

I would love to establish the AFTN EAST FIFE MUSEUM at the stadium, where myself and other fans could donate their East Fife memorabilia upon our old age and deaths for the wider fanbase to enjoy. All our programmes, momentos, cigarette cards, strips and more, with video footage of our games through the ages replayed on many screens for all to enjoy either again or for the first time. This, coupled with what the Club also has in this regards, would be a beautiful nod to our wonderful past. As I say, it's a dream!

Of course, we've saved the best till last. What do we actually want to see from the stadium itself?

Now as far as we're concerned, terracing is a must. If the Club go down the all seater route then they are frankly missing out on the chance to correct the errors that we currently have to put up with. To revitalise the home support. To give us the advantage that an intimidating home crowd atmosphere can provide.

I'm hoping, more than anything really, for terracing and a proper four sided stadium. I'd love to see two 1000 seat stands along the touchlines (hell, I'd go for 1500 seat stands from the start and a 4000 capacity). One for the home fans, one for away. Then behind both goals, standing terracing, with 500-1000 capacity at each end. At least one for the home fans. You could even stick executive boxes behind the other goal. The home one should be a covered shed to add to the noise and atmosphere. If there was to be an away end as well then leave that uncovered and let the away fans get soaked like the good old days!

If East Fife are looking for inspiration then they should look no further than AFC Wimbledon's Kingsmeadow Stadium. I'm sure other readers will have their examples, as a previous thread on the forum showed.

A 4,722 capacity stadium, with room for expansion. One stand along a touchline and then three covered standing areas. The main stand sits 1,125 and also contains the stadium's three bars.

It feels like a proper football ground and when I visited there last November, it was a joy. I'm looking forward to two further trips there later this year as well. Oh for something similar.

I would also like to see a "buy a brick" scheme, so popular elsewhere, where fans can buy a brick with their name on it at the new atadium. It's an easy moneyspinner and one which also gives the fans something to proudly look at for years to come and a lasting legacy.

All that we're left with now is the name. We HAVE to keep Bayview in there somewhere. I wouldn't be surprised to see a corporate named stadium though. We'll still call it Bayview. Let's just make sure that the Club do as well in some capacity.

It's an exciting time to be an East Fife fan, both with fresh attacking style of play on the pitch and now this off it. We're looking forward to more details as they come out.

So what's your hopes and aspirations for the new, new Bayview? Leave your thoughts both here in the blog and in the thread that's currently going on the AFTN Forum.

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