Islands, gardens and power stations: 8 stadiums that never were
5. The Blue Volcano
Officially known as the Stadion Kajzerica, this 2008 project – intended to home both Croatia and Dinamo Zagreb – earned its nickname because its cone-like blue exterior was to be topped by a white 'cloud' suspended above the stadium. That cloud would be covered in photovoltaic solar panels to generate power for the stadium, as the focal point of a groundbreaking eco-friendly venue.
Architect Hrvoje Nijiric claimed it would be the cheapest new stadium in that part of Europe, but the proposal needed the approval of a public referendum. That vote was repeatedly postponed and finally, in 2012, cancelled. Instead, Croatia and Dinamo continue to play at the rather dull and functional Stadion Maksimir. Final score: Blue Cloud 0, Red Tape 1.
6. The Kohlerdome
To fans of a certain vintage, few words so effectively conjure up boardroom hubris as “Kohlerdome”. David Kohler took joint ownership of Luton Town in May 1990, when the club had just completed its eighth successive top-flight season. Two summers later, relegation cost the club a slot in the new Premier League and they started to sell their best players, to vocal condemnation from the terraces.
Kohler sought a buyer for the club but the former property developer realised that leaving Kenilworth Road for a new stadium by the M1 might be a lucrative move. In October 1994, enthused by the USA World Cup, Kohler proudly unveiled plans for a £30m “Kohlerdome”, with 20,000 seats, retractable roof and a pitch that could be installed or removed using hovercraft technology.
By 1996 Luton had outline planning consent – but the club dropped into the third tier. And two years later tiers became tears as Kohler cried on local radio when the Department of the Environment finally rejected the plans. Rumour had it that the plans were rejected by a government mandarin angry at Luton’s five-year ban on away fans – a restriction Kohler had overturned soon after coming to power.
In 1999, having been sent a petrol bomb and a box of matches, he finally sold out; two years later Luton dropped into the fourth tier, and would later dip into non-league. Sixty years after then-chairman Percy Mitchell first mooted the idea of a move, they’re still looking to relocate.
7. Stadium in the Sea
Back in 2007, having decided to redesign Camp Nou, Barcelona commissioned Baron (Norman) Foster of Thames Bank – the architect behind New Wembley, The Gherkin and, erm, the Stansted Airport terminal building.
Foster cited Gaudí but got gaudy, with a “second skin” of multicoloured mosaic. Critics said it failed to tackle the issue of access and 'only' raised the capacity from 98,000 to 105,000 at a cost of €250m.
In response to this, in 2009 a Catalan architect called Emili Vidal had a brainstorm: why not build a 150,000-seat stadium on artificial island off the coast of Barcelona, accessible via a footbridge?
You may have your own answers to Vidal’s question. The club certainly remained unconvinced, and in February 2014 the club’s socios approved a €600m plan to renovate and roof the existing stadium by 2021.
8. Battersea Power Station
Since its closure in 1983, nobody has known quite what to do with Battersea Power Station – or rather, several parties have had unfulfilled ideas: theme park, shopping mall, apartments, biomass power station, urban park. In 2012, with the owners in administration, the site was put up for open sale – and Chelsea threw their ushanka into the ring.
Although the Blues were not the preferred bidder and their bid lost out, the club released imagery produced by architects Kohn Pedersen Fox showing how their plans for a 60,000-seat stadium would incorporate the power station’s beloved brick-cathedral exterior, overseen by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who also designed the classic red telephone box), “in a sensitive, unique and powerful way”.
Locating a stand (but not the pitch) within the footprint of the station, the stadium would consist of four discrete sides rather than the usual bowl – with one end being a 15,000-seat single-tier stand, a Dortmund-inspired style later incorporated into Tottenham’s redevelopment.
The cost of the project was estimated to be in excess of £1bn but this, in principle, would have been funded by the sale at Stamford Bridge – and that’s where Chelsea’s plans to find a new home became complicated.
The Stamford Bridge freehold belongs to the Chelsea Pitch Owners – a fans’ group set up in 1993 to safeguard against any club owner selling the land. The shareholders would prefer the club to stay at their current home and they are likely to get their wish, with a fascinatingly redeveloped Stamford Bridge currently earmarked to be open by 2020.
#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here