New supporter funded facilites at Stevenage FC now open
PUBLISHED: 11:48 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:35 21 February 2020
Thanks to a supporter bond scheme, the football club recently completed the modern north stand and sophisticated 76 Lounge, which is now available to hire.
After two-and-a-half years in the making, Stevenage Football Club's new north stand and 76 Lounge have been completed, officially opening over the weekend.
The development, which started in June 2017, boasts fully covered seating for 1,400 people and is equipped with new disabled viewing facilities, a ticket office and concourse. It also features the new 76 Lounge, a state-of-the-art conference and banqueting space with a 240-person capacity.
Alex Tunbridge, Stevenage Football Club Chief Executive, said: "The north stand and 76 Lounge will increase engagement with the local community and increase the club's revenue."
The major refurbishment cost £1.5 million to build. Stevenage FC raised over a third of the amount by utilising an innovative initiative that harnesses the spirit of community sporting clubs foster.
Through a supporter bond scheme facilitated by sports investment company Tifosy, 300 club supporters invested £600,000 through five-year term bonds. The club raised this amount in three months, making it the first club in England to utilise supporter bonds, said Alex. The minimum buy-in amount was £500, and the maximum was £25,000.
Alex said: "Raising the funds for a club of our size was always going to be a challenge. We had to think outside the box and Tifoy's new concept was one we felt we had to explore."
In return, supporter investors receive an annual return of either a cash amount valued at four per cent of their invested sum, or club credit, valued at eight per cent of their invested sum.
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Remaining funding came from the Football Foundation and Stevenage Football Club.
To celebrate the project's completion and the opening of 76 Lounge, Stevenage FC hosted a VIP opening party for bondholders on Saturday, which Alex said was a great opportunity to thank them for helping support the club in financing the new stand.
He said: "The bondholder opening party on Saturday was a fantastic occasion. Together we have created a great facility for the community which will be enjoyed by future generations."
The party was organised by 76 Events, the newly formed company that will oversee the venue's functions. The space is available to the public for hire and 76 Events can offer bespoke hospitality packages to suit all needs. Equipped with an eight-metre copper bar, state-of-the-art audio-visual facilities and free parking, the 76 Lounge will soon become one of the most desirable venues for celebrations, conferences, remembrances and match day festivities.
Alex said: "76 Lounge is an iconic venue and would look at home in some of the most vibrant cities around the world."
Stevenage FC's 76 Lounge and north stand replaces the run-down north terrace.
Designed to hold only 650 people, the terrace was only partially covered, so people would get wet, said Alex.
He said: "It had low-standard wheelchair facilities and a poor view. The food and toilet facilities were also not up to scratch. As a match day experience, it was below par.
"We've been working on the north stand for a long time now and we are pleased to finally see the vision come to life. It is an iconic venue in the community and the bondholders have created a legacy in the town."
For further information about the new 76 Lounge and 76 Events visit stevenagefc.com/76events or call 01438 223223 and press option three.