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Saturday 07 April 2012
The new Kingston Road End stand

The following article appeared in the programme for the Rotherham game.

In four days' time, work will begin on the new 940-seater stand at the Kingston Road End. This latest upgrade of the Cherry Red Records Stadium is to comply with Football League requirements - and there will be more upgrades to come, as Tom Adam and Erik Samuelson report.

Next Tuesday, immediately after Easter, work will start on the new stand at the Kingston Road End (KRE). This timing will enable us to complete the stand and open it in time for the first league game of next season, which is due to start on 18 August. When the work is completed we will comply with the Football League requirement to have a minimum of 2,000 seats under cover - failure to do so could cost us our place in the League.

Once the work has started, the KRE will be closed and our capacity will be reduced for the final two home games of 2011/12. With the KRE closed, turnstiles 1, 2 and 3 are unlikely to be needed but the toilets and burger bar in the north-west corner of the stadium will continue to be available for use by fans in the Paul Strank Stand.

In total the new stand will provide about 940 additional seats, laid out in five blocks, as you can see from the plan. Fans will enter the stand from the back, and the entrance to the new stand will be from new turnstiles located just below where the "next game" sign is currently situated in Jack Goodchild Way. New refreshment facilities and toilets for home fans will be provided behind (but not under) the stand - unfortunately, there isn't sufficient room to accommodate these underneath the stand, and all we will be able to do is use any space available there for storage.

Block N will be set aside for families, as will part of block P. The remainder of block P and block Q will be available for season ticket holders; the capacity of blocks N, P and Q taken together is just under 600.

Block S, coloured pink on the plan, will be set aside for away fans who will enter at the same place as away fans currently enter the East Stand (formerly the John Smith's Stand). The plan shows a few seats in this block blanked out to allow for segregation from home fans, but segregation might just as easily be achieved by stewarding, which would release a few more seats for visiting fans. This configuration is for low numbers of away fans, but when there are more visiting fans we can release half of block R for their use. This will give us a greater degree of flexibility than at present, as we will be able to adjust the numbers of both terrace places and seats allocated to visiting fans up or down by about 200, according to the expected demand.

We don't currently plan to sell season tickets for block R since there will be times when we will want take all of it for our own use and times when half the stand is allocated to visiting fans. The area behind the stand has been designed to make it easy to segregate fans, with both home and away fans having separate toilets and refreshment areas.

Visiting fans will leave the stadium in the same way that they currently do - via the access road behind the East Stand. Home fans will leave via the car park behind the KRE, and this is likely to mean that players won't be able to park there in future, putting more strain on the main car park.

The stand is nine rows deep, and we decided to maintain a good distance between each seat and the one in front of it. We could have squeezed in another row by reducing the legroom, but we thought it was important that fans should be able to watch in comfort. As can be seen from the cross-section of the stand, the front row will be dug down a little, and fans in that row will be sitting with their feet slightly below pitch level.

Season tickets for the new KRE stand are now on sale, and fans who have a terrace season ticket in the stand this season will be given priority; if they don't want a seat, they will get priority for a terrace place over those fans currently with season tickets for other areas of the ground wishing to transfer to another terrace. Details of how to apply for a season ticket in the KRE or any other part of the stadium are now available online or can be obtained at the complimentary tickets window after today's game. If you already have a season ticket, you should have received your renewal notice a few days ago.

In an article about the Stadium Working Group published in the programme for the Dagenham & Redbridge game, Tom Adam explained the nature and extent of the improvement work we've carried out in the nine years since we bought this stadium. That work will continue, because we have recently been notified by the authorities that we must upgrade the East Stand by 1 May 2014. In effect, if we are to avoid too much disruption in the 2013/14 season, we will need to carry out that work in the summer of 2013, and a project team is already looking at the options.

Our ultimate ambition continues to be to return to Wimbledon, and in that context we are about to appoint advisors to carry out an independent review of our progress to date and help us to formulate the best way forward. Given our aim of a return to Wimbledon, the project team for the East Stand is also looking very carefully at the most cost-effective solution to meeting the Football League's requirements.

In a few weeks' time the Dons Trust will be holding a Special General Meeting and we urge members to come to that meeting to hear more about the KRE development and what we are required to do with the East Stand. Obviously, how we fund further work is now a significant issue, and we will be addressing that at the meeting too.