Generations of fans have grown up knowing Loftus Road as the home of QPR, and as much as its dated facilities and lack of leg room can cause us to moan the day we move out will be an emotional one as many fond memories will be recalled not just of great moments on the pitch but of time spent with friends and family.
Yet many fans will welcome the prospect of us moving to a new purpose built stadium with better amenities and indeed there is much about the Old Oak proposal which is innovative and exciting, Certainly it is consistent with the ambition of the Club to restore us to a stable position within the top flight of English football.
The viability of the new stadium is based on predicted attendance figures which are ambitious to say the least and we urge the club to plan and budget carefully so that the stadium does not become a white elephant, potentially dragging us into a spiral of increasing debt but an example of astute financial management and accountability. One key question to be answered whether QPR will be sole owners of the property.
A priority of the architectural design of the new stadium must be to ensure that it produces a great crowd atmosphere. Too often stadiums have been built which have attractive designs but where any atmosphere is effectively stifled. We urge the architectural team to carry out thorough research and to use every trick in the trade to make sure that when our fans make noise the sound echoes and resonates around the whole stadium. Essential to this is ensuring that fans are as close to the pitch as possible rather than find themselves watching the players as tiny figures in the distance.
We also hope that central to the stadium plans should be recognition that a football stadium should be more than just a sports venue but a community asset- and an inclusive one at that which embraces the cultural and economic diversity of its fans and the people who live in its vicinity. It is hoped that those involved in the plans can see beyond the needs of the prawn sandwich brigade and the tourist industry. For example consideration needs to be given to affordable accessible parking spaces for QPR fans rather than expecting us to pay ‘Saturday Shopping’ prices on top of our season ticket. In keeping with the response we gave to the consultation organised by the Mayor and local councils on the new stadium plans, the developers must ensure excellent, safe pedestrian links from Willesden Junction tube and overground services to the stadium, and to future Crossrail/HS2 stations.
Above all we believe that if the Club is going to get this once in a lifetime opportunity right then it needs to ensure that structured focussed consultation takes place with the fans at every stage of this development. This should not be limited to merely telling the fans what has been agreed after the event. Consultation also needs to be broad so that it takes into account the varying needs of different groups- families with small children; those who would prefer to stand; physically disabled as well as those with other forms of disability including autism and learning difficulties.
In previous meetings, QPR1st has received reassurance from the Club that consultation will indeed take place. We now look forward to the Club honouring that pledge.