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Ground-breaking: Howard Webb, Richard Stewart and Tony Stewart at new venue .   Picture: dean atkins
Ground-breaking: Howard Webb, Richard Stewart and Tony Stewart at new venue . Picture: dean atkins
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A SURGE of support from fans for New York Stadium as the name for Rotherham United’s new ground was among the factors that helped persuade club chairman Tony Stewart that it was the one to go with.

The historic links with the town’s New York area on which the stadium is being built and the commercial possibilities were major considerations that swung Stewart and his directors to plump for the name which was announced now as an early Christmas present for the club’s followers.

“The initial favourite was The Foundry, then came Waterfront and then New York Stadium was put forward. these were the final three under consideration,” said Stewart.

“A strong case was put to me for New York Stadium and when we did our research into the area and sat down and assessed all the commercial possibilities and everything associated with being linked with that name, it began to stand out. We had put it out to fans to give us suggestions and started getting more and more support for New York.

“The name had a ring to it. When it was mentioned to me for the first time, I thought it was too flashy for Rotherham. But the more I thought about it and the compelling reasons put forward, the more the appeal of such a name grew.

“It is a name that will stand out and we have a stadium that, I feel, will stand out as well and one people will be proud of.”

Howard Webb, a lifelong fan and honorary club Ambassaddor, was invited to officially announce the name and commented: “It’s quite an unusual name but it’s an iconic one.

“It may divide opinion but people will debate it, talk about it and that all helps put Rotherham United on the map.

“People will very quickly come to know it as the New York Stadium and not think any more of it.

“ I would just love to referee the first pre-season friendly there in front of a big crowd,” said Howard.

Comment

IN the end, it was too good an opportunity to miss. To have your football club’s name associated with one of the biggest brand names in the world just could not be overlooked.

It might be reckoned that Rotherham United and New York seems an unlikely mix.

The working class town, built on steel and coal, and the big, brash, glittering city that never sleeps and is one of the most famous places on earth.

But this is no gimmick. If it was then it would be wrong to have named Rotherham United’s ground New York Stadium. But for all sorts of reasons, not least historical, Millers chairman Tony Stewart and his directors have got it right although whatever name was chosen there would have been those not in favour or didn’t like it.

For a start, the 12,000 seater ground is being built in the old New York area - called New York long before Rotherham United were ever thought of.

Football traditionally named its grounds from the road or the area where it is situated - think Bramall Lane, think Hillsborough. So why not New York Stadium?

Throw in the twist, too, of the old Guest and Chrimes foundry on the site from where fire hydrants made there were exported over to New York.

Initially, when names were being bandied about, chairman Stewart thought New York “a bit too flashy.” But then the case was made and he became convinced and saw the opportunities that would arise from having such a name - after all, he’d said it would be an iconic stadium so what an iconic name to go with it!

And when Stewart spoke to his own marketing people, they were convinced that companies and businessmen would see the value in having their name closely associated with one of the biggest brand names in the world. Yes, even Rotherham United, the epitome of a solid, gritty, small town club with down-to-earth fans who couldn’t be further removed from the prawn sandwich brigade, had to acknowledge the importance and value of the growing corporate involvement in all football clubs.

There are all sorts of possibilities on the marketing front and not just sticking a few bagels in the refreshment bars either! The PR value is enormous. Whatever the reaction - and there will be mickey-taking for sure, particularly nationally and perhaps from those a touch envious - the name will ensure an unpretentious League Two club will get a reaction, and its share of publicity, on a scale they could not have imagined otherwise.

In time, it will become accepted as the name of Rotherham’s ground. As would any other name. But people will remember it and you can be sure it will create interest, perhaps puzzlement - and then Millers followers can tell why it’s New York and the claim to the name. Rotherham United associated with New York. Who knows, someone might just mention it across in New York. Who would have thought it?

But we’d better get used to it. And I must say, when next season comes around, I’m quite looking forward to going to New York!