Stadium Improvements – AB
Alan Bowen updated the group on work that has been carried out around the stadium over the summer.
The group explained they have received several comments via the Fans’ Forum Twitter account regarding the stadium and facilities at Goodison Park.
AB confirmed that he is responsible for overseeing the facilities at Goodison Park, Finch Farm, Everton One and all the office space for Club staff. He explained that a combination of the large number of projects undertaken and the earlier start to the season than usual, meant that there were a number of challenges to overcome in getting the stadium ready for the first game. Supporters may see some ongoing work around the ground which is due to be completed in coming weeks.
Plans were in place for all the toilet facilities in the hospitality sections of the stadium to be refurbished, and to date, the Brian Labone, Alex Young and Joe Mercer lounge toilets are all complete. The People’s Club and Captains’ Table lounge toilets will be completed during the September international break. Furniture has also been replaced in some of the lounges, a new air conditioning system has been installed, and the Joe Mercer and Alex Young entrances have been upgraded.
A new telephone system has been introduced to improve communication into the Club. The Club also has a new telephone number so signage around the stadium has been updated to include the correct details.
Two seasons ago, the Club began to roll out a staged upgrade of the 38 toilet blocks throughout the concourses in the stadium. This has continued this summer with the toilets in the Upper Bullens and Paddock upgraded, whilst the Club has also changed the paper towels, soap dispensers and bins in toilets throughout the stadium.
AB informed the group the escalators in the Top Balcony are 45 years old and the Club are in the process of completely rewiring them and changing the control system. This will be complete before the home fixture against Liverpool in October.
Painting and steel work has been carried out on the roof in the Upper Gwladys Street and the floodlight gantry in the Upper Bullens stand. The roof trusses in the Park End have been painted and the banner has been replaced ahead of the new season.
Supporters will see ongoing work being carried out on the Main Stand roof cladding which will be complete before the home fixture against Liverpool.
The turnstile counting system and the exit gate system have both been upgraded. The gates operate via a magnetic lock and a computer system is used to release every lock via one click of a button. The Club were the first ground in the country to use this system in 1986/87 and the Club has now rewired the system.
AB stated the Club has one of the best CCTV systems available and further upgrades have been completed in the summer allowing the operations team to view every seat in the stadium. A full medical equipment upgrade has been completed and an ambulance buggy will now be in operation for the 2015/16 season.
A digital radio system is now in operation for stewards on a matchday. This will improve the communication and response time for any incidents that may occur on a matchday.
AB informed the group of the safety checks and regulations the facilities team have to complete, including floodlight regulations with the Premier League, emergency conditions testing and the requirements for the ground safety certificate.
Blue lighting has been installed on all four corners of the stadium. This will be used at evening fixtures and will improve the external appearance of Goodison Park.
Forum members asked AB is there are any plans to remove the wooden seats in the stadium. AB informed the group there are no plans to do so at the moment as some supporters prefer these seats and feel they add to the history of Goodison Park.
REA stated that supporters have contacted the Fans’ Forum Twitter account with feedback about certain areas of the Stadium needing to be improved, specifically the paneling between the Main Stand and Gwladys Street corner. AB explained that whilst the translucent sheet can appear to look dirty, this is not the case as it is actually UV sunlight damage. CP and AB have been in discussions previously regarding covering this with flags or other materials. However, AB explained to the group that the translucent sheeting was installed in 1981 in agreement with St Luke’s Church. The alter window in the church faces the Gwladys Street stand and if any materials covered the sheeting this would affect the natural sunlight going into the church. As part of the agreement, the Club has also installed two spotlights in the corner that are operated by the Church.
SJ asked AB to explain the meaning of ‘Operation Goodison Exercise’ when announced on a matchday. AB explained that Operation Goodison Exercise is the contingency plan for the stadium so when the announcement is made, the stewards, police and traffic management team move into their emergency positions. A number of different levels of security announcements and a series of different code words are used throughout the matchday operation.
The group thanked AB for attending the meeting and felt this topic would make an interesting article in a matchday programme.
ACTION: CP to arrange interview with Alan Bowen in upcoming matchday programme regarding stadium improvements.
AB referenced the continued work that is being carried out at Finch Farm training facility and informed the group of the masterplan that is in operation for future seasons to ensure the facility remains at category one status.