GREEN LIGHT FOR MCDONALDS THREATENS LIBERTY STADIUM EXPANSION

Swansea City Football Club's hopes of expanding their stadium may have taken a blow after Councillors approved plans for a new restaurant next to the site.

The Liberty Stadium currently holds 20,532 but the Swans want to boost this to around 30,000 by expanding three of the stands. But club chairman Huw Jenkins believes this could be jeopardised by planning approval of a new McDonald's drive-through restaurant in front of the ticket office.

Liberty Stadium

"The club has already started preliminary talks with planning officers in order to submit a scheme for approval in the near future," said Jenkins. "The overall expansion plans include the East, South and North stands to increase capacity up to around 30,000.

"We should have even been considering including a hotel development into the South Stand expansion to complement not only football and rugby fixtures, but to help promote the Liberty Stadium as a top venue for concerts, conferences and other events that will bring business into the city. This could have included extra car parking and improved access surrounding the area the council has now recommended as a McDonald's outlet," he said.

"Unfortunately, if the fast food outlet goes ahead, we will have to look again to see if the expansion is financially viable. The stadium expansion, which is to be built with a phased approach, is an extremely expensive project which will be funded by Swansea City Football Club."

The planning report put before councillors did not mention any stadium expansion proposals, but the Swans chairman confirmed that the club had spoken in length on numerous occasions to leading councillors about their concerns on the project and its potential effect on expansion. The main objection on the planning application was submitted back in July, after the Swans were still planning for life in the Premier League following promotion just two months earlier, by the Liberty Stadium Management Company on other grounds such as traffic issues.

"But it's all part of our strategic plan to continue the growth of Swansea City which is paramount to maintaining Premier League status over the coming years," Jenkins added. "The club paid over £1m towards the upkeep of the Liberty Stadium last year and that is expected to increase to nearly £1.5m this year.

"But as a club we are determined to make every effort to satisfy the increasing demand from the community to watch and support the Swans."

A council spokesman said the stadium discussions were at a very early stage and that the Swans were advised of the detailed steps they needed to take to progress their ideas.

Posted on 12/02/2012