Rotherham United: D-Day draws close over New York Stadium expansion

Millers chairman Tony Stewart. Picture: Glenn Ashley
Millers chairman Tony Stewart. Picture: Glenn Ashley
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The engineering is already in place and and the demand for season tickets is set to reach record levels ... now all Rotherham United are waiting on is the word of their architect before deciding whether to expand AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Millers chairman Tony Stewart expects to hear from his man with the plans any day now after asking him to come up with the costs for increasing the capacity from 12,000 to 16,000 or even 20,000.

“At the end of the day, as a businessman it’s my job to make sure that we maximum the attendances we are going to get moving forward,” Stewart said. “I’m saying now that we’re getting near the time when we have to take action.

“Season tickets are going really well. We’re nearly up to where we were last season with two months still to go.”

Stewart has already held preliminary discussions with the architect and intends to make an announcement by the middle of next week.

“He’s already got ideas,” Stewart revealed. “ The stadium was built with the built-in engineering that meant we could take it to 16,000 and then 20,000 seats. That’s already built in, with drains and things like that.

New York Stadium

New York Stadium

“My question to the architect, three years on, is ‘what’s the cost to do it?’. We had estimated costs three years ago, but things change in time. The possibility of taking it from 12,000 to 16,000 ... that’s the first move.”

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The stadium opened in 2012 and, with the Millers achieving back-to-back promotions and then surviving their first year in the Championship, crowds have increased every year.

Stewart added. “We’re now seeing that we have to look at extending that to the next level. We’ll also going to be talking about 20,000.”

The man who funded New York is well aware that his club is missing out financially as the South Stand away end is too small to cater for the demands of second-tier club’s like Leeds United and Derby County which boast huge travelling support.

And the clamour for tickets from home fans has sometimes been so great - as in the case of March’s derby with Sheffield Wednesday - that Rotherham have had to give away clubs a reduced number of seats.

“It’s not nice when you’re denying local clubs,” Stewart acknowledged. “It was only because of the demand of the Rotherham supporters for tickets. I think every club has to have its allegiance first of all to its own fans before it thinks of any others.”

An increase to 16,000 would involve uplifting the North Stand kop and South Stand, while a jump to 20,000 would include the East/Family Stand as well. Work could be carried out during the season.

“That’s how it was, unless that’s changed. The architect will put us right on that footing,” Stewart said. “ I’m told we can build it through the season so we don’t have to wait to the end of next season.

“I want to be armed and ready knowing full well what it’s going to cost and what sort of programme we need to set out to increase the stands.

“I think, as I sit today, that the next level will be 16,000. The programme and planning, I’ll have to seek that information when I’ve got all the initial information from the architect.

“I would consider going straight to 20,000 because I’ve mentioned about the cost and it could be that doing it in one stage is more economical than doing it in two, but again that’s waiting on information coming back from the architect.”