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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 10:20 GMT
Countdown to stadium kick-off
Stadium

As Swansea City's Vetch ground hosts its final Christmas match on 28 December, the BBC Wales news website gives a sneak preview of the club's new 27m home.

The 20,000 all-seater football and rugby arena is being built on former industrial waste ground at Landore.

Exterior work has nearly been completed and the contractors are now furnishing offices, conference suites, bars and player facilities.

The new stadium will open on 31 July.

Although work is only now starting on the pitch - which will need to stand up to the rigours of both football and rugby for nine months of the year - every one of the 20,280 black and white seats are in place.

Stadium facts
The foundations sit on 1,450 precast concrete piles
The West Stand upper floor facilities cover a total area of 8,800 square metres
The task of installing the huge jigsaw of precast units which form the stadium bowl was completed in July
The changing rooms and baths have been designed for 26 players on either side
To strengthen the pitch, plastic grass reinforcements will put in place before it is seeded
Now that is complete and the scoreboards and floodlights installed as well - work over the next months will be less noticeable.

The mechanical and electrical services are being added, along with internal features such as carpets and decor.

The bars and kitchens that will serve the hospitality boxes, lounges and conference areas are also taking shape.

And while there is still a lot to do, it is already clear that, compared to Vetch and St Helen's grounds - the current homes of Swansea football club and Ospreys rugby team - the new stadium promises Premiership rather than Conference standards.

John Evans, senior associate with project managers Gardiner and Theobold, said it was something the city had been crying out for for years.

Swansea host their final Christmas match at their old ground against Boston on Tuesday, while the last league match to be played at the Vetch, the club's home since 1912, is scheduled to be against Shrewsbury on 30 April.

"The Vetch has come to the end of its natural lifetime. It needs lots of money spent on it each year just to meet health and safety standards. The main stand at St Helen's is like something out of the Ark," said Mr Evans.

John Evans
John Evans said the stadium will be used all week long

Areas have been designed for fans with specific disabilities, including the hard-of-hearing, and the hospitality facilities should enable both clubs to earn more money through corporate sponsorship.

"Options will range from three-course meals to a pie and a pint," said Mr Evans.

Some 1,175 luxury seats have been reserved for people joining the 'Premier Club' scheme with a lifetime membership fee of 1,000 and then regular monthly payments.

Over 400 of the packages have been sold since the launch earlier in the month.

When the stadium, funded by Swansea Council, was designed, it was with the aim of making it a seven-day-a-week facility.

The Vetch, Swansea
The Swans will leave the Vetch at the end of the football season

As well as the offices, talks are taking place with a view to moving the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame from the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagan's near Cardiff.

"They've got to be able to use the stadium on non-match days in order to bring in income to pay for its running and up-keep," added Mr Evans.

"There is the space for big diner dances for up to 600 - there are big areas that can be used for a variety of things."

In the closed season it is hoped it will stage rock and pop concerts, but opportunities will be limited because of the need to look after the pitch.

The race is on to get that ready for an official opening on 31 July - likely to take the form of an exhibition match before the football and rugby seasons start in earnest.




SEE ALSO:
Fans kick-off farewell to Vetch
07 Aug 04 |  South West Wales
Fans' petition over stadium name
26 Jul 04 |  South West Wales
Jackett lauds new stadium
23 Jul 04 |  Swansea City
Morfa Stadium gets go-ahead
06 Jun 03 |  South West Wales


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