The Ricketts Group would consider upgrading Stamford Bridge to host other sports if they gained control of Chelsea – and insist the club wouldn’t have to move during redevelopment work.
The wealthy Americans, who own the Chicago Cubs baseball team, are one of four prospective new owners of the Stamford Bridge club after Roman Abramovich was stuck with heavy government sanctions.
All interested parties have until April 11 to submit their final offers to Raine Group, the bank overseeing the sale, and are using the intervening days to take an in-depth look at the club’s infrastructure.
Eric Nordness, who would be in charge of the Stamford Bridge redevelopment if the Ricketts Group took over, has outlined how the aging stadium would be redesigned.
In early 2018, Abramovich released eye-catching designs for a 60,000 all-seater stadium to be built on the Stamford Bridge site at a cost of £ 1.4billion.
But the plans were shelved later that year with the club citing ‘the current unfavorable investment climate.’
The Ricketts Group would commit to redeveloping Stamford Bridge if they took over Chelsea
The Blues’ 42,000-capacity home is in urgent need of upgrade work if the club are to keep pace with their Premier League rivals
Tom Ricketts and his family are one of four shortlisted parties left in the running to buy the club
The Ricketts family oversaw the redevelopment of the Cubs’ iconic Wrigley Field home
In an interview with The Athletic, Nordness, who oversaw the $ 1bn redevelopment of the Cubs’ iconic Wrigley Field, said Chelsea would ‘unequivocally’ not move stadiums and would rebuild Stamford Bridge bit by bit.
‘I see so many eerie similarities to Wrigley, including the ground being next to a railway line, being in an urban, dense neighborhood,’ he said.
‘We have roughly the same amount of acres to work with. The current stadium holds about the same amount of people (around 42,000) and so on.
‘I’ve been working on multiple ideas with our architecture firm, Populous. I have decks of detailed plans. I’m trying to figure out the jigsaw puzzle now, the timing, the coordination. ‘
Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham played at Wembley Stadium for the whole 2017-18 season and some of the following campaign as their state-of-the-art, 62,850-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was built.
Tottenham have hosted NFL matches at their new stadium and the Ricketts family would look into ways Stamford Bridge could host other sports
The Atlanta Falcons take on the New York Jets at Tottenham’s Stadium back in October
Saracens played Bristol Bears at Tottenham’s ground in a Premiership rugby fixture recently
But Nordness said ‘our priority is to play every season at Stamford Bridge’ during the rebuild, suggesting it will take place stand-by-stand.
Spurs also designed their new arena to be multi-functional, with NFL, rugby and boxing events already staged there.
Nordness said: ‘We definitely would look at that. The trend in professional sports across the world is how do you find different ways to engage with fans and community and how do you diversify your sporting income? The best teams in sports are doing that. ‘
The Ricketts bid have already vowed not to join any future European Super League and also to make no changes to Chelsea’s name, badge or colors without fan consent.
They have also pledged to continue investing in the team to ensure they compete for the biggest prizes.
The Ricketts’ bid to buy Chelsea has been rocked by accusations of bigotry and Islamophobia
Family patriarch Joe Ricketts, 80, called Muslims ‘my enemy’ in leaked emails from 2019
A poll by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust found 77 percent of Blues fans were against the prospect of the American family taking over the club
But they have already faced a backlash from supporters after leaked emails by head of the family Joe Ricketts in which he wrote ‘Muslims are naturally my enemy’ resurfaced.
It led to a protest by Chelsea fans outside Stamford Bridge ahead of the match with Brentford on Saturday.
The other candidates include a consortium headed by the LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly, which also includes London-based property developer Jonathan Goldstein and US investment firm Clearlake Capital.
The former British Airways and Liverpool FC chairman Sir Martin Broughton is leading a consortium backed by former British Olympian Lord Coe and American financiers Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer.
And another bid is spearheaded by Stephen Pagliuca, an American private equity billionaire who also owns the Boston Celtics NBA team.