Hampden Park Revamp Sidelined: Insights from SFA Chief Ian Maxwell
The grandeur of Scotland’s Hampden Park, despite its significant historical prominence, is evidently at odds with the current economic circumstances. Ian Maxwell, the chief executive of the Scottish FA (SFA), has dashed any immediate hopes of a redevelopment or reconfiguration of this celebrated stadium according to BBC Sport.
Stewardship Over Splendour: Navigating a Delicate Balance
The crux of the matter is about making the most of what is currently available, as opposed to undertaking substantial renovations, especially in light of the prevailing economic conditions. Hampden Park is now in its 120th year and last witnessed a major overhaul back in 1999.
In recent times, there were revelations about plans for a potential rebuild that could have escalated Hampden’s capacity from 52,000 to 65,000. These plans were drafted in 2020 as part of an eventually discarded UK World Cup 2030 bid.
“We talked previously about redevelopment and reconfiguration and bringing the ends in,” Maxwell reflected on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound. He recalled the context of the World Cup 2030 bid and the prospects of securing substantial income for this endeavour. However, the shifting economic landscape, particularly in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, has led to a reassessment of such plans.
The Striking Reality: High Cost of Renovation
Maxwell drew parallels with Stuttgart, highlighting the significant costs associated with similar renovations. He emphasised, “And, with the best will in the world, if someone can give us 100-odd million euros, we have far more important things to do with that in terms of growing the game and opportunities to play and transforming lives than doing the stadium.”
The need for constant upkeep of Hampden was once again in focus when a Euro 2024 qualifier match against Georgia was met with torrential rain, exposing the leaking roof. Maxwell reiterated the necessity of regular repairs and the costs associated with maintaining a stadium of Hampden’s age and size. He quoted figures nearing £2m per year just for essential maintenance and ongoing operations.
Exploring Alternatives: Not Currently Feasible
Suggestions to abandon Hampden in favour of Glasgow’s other top-notch stadiums – Celtic Park and Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium – were dismissed by Maxwell. He reasoned that the associated costs of venue hire would equally impose a significant financial burden, hence making this alternative a non-viable solution.
Additionally, Maxwell also ruled out the possibility of hosting men’s internationals in smaller stadiums around the country, owing to Hampden’s current necessity to accommodate the thriving national team.
Betting on Euro 2028: Anticipating Positive Outcome
While the immediate plan for Hampden’s overhaul may be shelved, the SFA has its sights set on a bigger objective – Euro 2028. Hampden Park is among the venues included in the joint UK and Ireland bid to host this prestigious event.
Maxwell is optimistic about the outcome of UEFA’s decision, due in October. He believes in the strength and competitive edge of their bid, buoyed by the UK’s unrivalled reputation for event delivery across Europe.
Only time will reveal the future of Hampden Park and its role in the growth and development of Scottish football. However, under the careful guidance of the SFA and Ian Maxwell, the focus remains on maintaining this historical venue while prioritising the growth of the sport.