SMITH OF THE STAR: The Millers are coming home to a £20million new stadium

Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium taking shape
Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium taking shape
0
Have your say

IF YOU stand on Coronation Bridge in Masbrough and look towards town you can see the promised land.

Beyond the moss-encrusted asbestos of a boarded-up Millmoor lies the stunning £20m New York Stadium and a brand new start of it for Rotherham United.

Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium taking shape

Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium taking shape

There’s only a few hundred yards between them but they’re centuries apart.

Old-style Millmoor, the humble but solid home of the Millers from 1907 to 2008 is just as it was when it closed, an empty shrine to football’s flat cap history, its future unknown.

But New York is buzzing, alive with potential and the sounds of construction as king of the hill Tony Stewart, the Millers chairman, takes us round his new domain.

“Football is coming back to Rotherham and the Millers are coming home,” says the indefatigable Stewart, the man whose drive, vision and not a little cash have made the new stadium possible.

Inside Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium as it nears completion with Chairman Tony Stewart and his son Richard

Inside Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium as it nears completion with Chairman Tony Stewart and his son Richard

Built in an area of the town known as New York on the site of the old Guest and Chrimes foundry where they made New York’s distinctive fire hydrants, the 12,000-seater stadium will host its first game on July 21 after the club’s four-season exile at Don Valley Stadium.’

“That’s going to be my seat there,” says the chairman pointing to a concrete step in the unfinished three-tier Eric Twigg Foods Pukka Pies West Stand just outside what will be boardroom access to the arena.

And what a vista.

Though still with much to do, the steeply-banked stands sweep around the bowl of the compact new stadium to give it an intimacy that many new grounds lack.

Inside Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium as it nears completion with Chairman Tony Stewart and his son Richard

Inside Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium as it nears completion with Chairman Tony Stewart and his son Richard

It’s going to be pretty raucous in there with a full house.

They’ll also be pretty comfortable, even the most luxuriously upholstered backside will have room to spread out.

“The seats are 50mm wider than usual, so everyone will have room to feel comfortable,” adds the chairman.

“They are usually 450mm wide but these are 500mm. The pitch of the seating is the maximum it can be so it brings people closer to the action and everyone can see over the person in front.

Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium taking shape

Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium taking shape

“It’s got to be one of the nicest stadiums built in the last 10 years,” says the owner of Rotherham based company ASD Lighting.

“If you look at this ground as a brand then it’s a Ferrari. It reflects an attention to detail and a pride taken in what we’re doing.

“I know the people of Rotherham and our fans and I know they will appreciate that.”

“To me it is personal. If I’m involved I want to be proud of it and I am very proud of this stadium.

The chairman takes a moment to reflect and stares up into the unfinished heights of the towering west stand.

“Look at the scale of it, Martin,” he says.

Inside Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium as it nears completion with Chairman Tony Stewart and his son Richard

Inside Rotherham Uniteds New York Stadium as it nears completion with Chairman Tony Stewart and his son Richard

“Look at the height of this stand, three tiers, that’s impressive, I insisted on that, we wanted to create something special.”

New York will be a community asset. There are plans for a public gym, classrooms, retail space, banqueting for 350 people and a coffee shop – possibly Costa – and there’s even talk of big-name sponsors for the ground.

“This is not just a stadium, it’s part of the town. We are talking names like Coca-Cola as sponsors and that’s serious stuff. We’ve had interest from the New York Times and the Wall Steet Journal and we want to get a senator from the city over for the opening ceremony.

The second phase of the development is expected to bring a pub and a hotel and take the total cost of the project to £30m.

The club have applied for permission to pull down the old Guest and Chrimes building as part of the next phase, though the facade of the old building may be incorporated into any new project.

“150 years ago this was a sweatshop employing 3,000 people in a foundry,” said the chairman.

“In a couple of months time we will have people coming here for leisure and they will see views of Rotherham that they have not seen in a lifetime.”

So where does Mr Stewart think the League Two club will be in five years time?

“I want us to be competing at the top level of the championship,” he says with no hesitation.

“If you are in a league and doing well you want to move up to the next level. What else are you going to do? Sit on your hands?

“We have to be aiming for the Premier League eventually. Why not? If Barnsley and Blackpool can do it why not Rotherham?

“We have a new stadium and a new manager.

“This is a fresh start for the club right back in the heart of town. Who knows what we can achieve?”