Northampton Saints have been given the go-ahead to expand Franklin’s Gardens, a decision the club says is “vital” for its long-term success.
The plans to build a new North Stand have been approved today by Northampton Borough Council, clearing the way for work to start in the summer of 2015.
The stand will increase the stadium’s capacity to more than 15,500, a 20 per cent increase on current levels.
The club says the stadium is regularly filled to more than 95 percent of its capacity, and half the home games played so far in 2013-14 have sold out in advance of match day.
Saints chairman Tony Hewitt says that the expansion of Franklin’s Gardens is crucial to the club’s sustainability and success.
He said: “The new stand is vital for the long-term growth of the Saints. The additional capacity gives more people from across the town, county and beyond the opportunity to watch some of the best players in England play rugby, while the growth in revenues will allow us to increase our re-investment into the playing squad and maintain the recent levels of success we have enjoyed.
“Everyone at Franklin’s Gardens has worked extremely hard to get us where we are, and the new stand will help us stay at the top end of the most competitive league anywhere in club rugby.
“There is also the knock-on benefit to the local economy, with up to 2,000 additional people coming into the town to watch rugby, creating a potential increased footfall for businesses in and around the town.”
Council leader, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm), said: “The Saints team is made up of top class internationals and some of the brightest young players in world rugby.
“The team represents our town proudly every week as they compete for domestic and European honours. So it is only fitting that they play in a world-class stadium that can be a fitting venue for some of the biggest matches in club rugby.
“A larger stadium not only gives more supporters the chance to cheer on the players in black, green and gold, but will be a significant boost to the local economy.”
For more details on the plans, visit www.northampton.gov.uk/planning and search for reference N/2013/1133.