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Luton Town 'close' to securing new stadium location

By Tom Walker    21 Apr 2015
Gary Sweet, CEO of Luton Town, says the club has passed a 'significant milestone'

Luton Town Football Club (LTFC) is close to securing a site for its planned new stadium, according to club CEO Gary Sweet.

Speaking ahead of the game against Hartlepool on 18 April, Sweet said the club had passed “another important project milestone” in its efforts to relocate and move from its ageing Kenilworth Road ground.

“We’ve made some significant breakthroughs in recent weeks,” Sweet said.

“Firstly, we’ve obtained support for our plans from the Labour Party group members at Luton Borough Council after a series of initial engagements.

“Secondly, we’ve been sufficiently encouraged to push ahead with the necessary enabling development plans to ensure that the stadium’s construction can be funded through building other facilities. Not only would this wide-ranging, mixed-use plan assist the club, we believe it will also benefit the town greatly.”

Sweet added that while a preferred site had been identified, the club would not be announcing it due to reasons of commercial confidence and to protect the project’s “probability of success”.

The club has, however, now entered the pre-application stage with the council’s planning office.

If LTFC’s plan for a new stadium is proven successful, it will bring to an end one of the most protracted and colourful stadium relocations in English football – marked by a number of ambitious and bizarre proposals.

During the 1980s, when the club enjoyed some of its most successful years on the pitch, there were talks of moving the club to Milton Keynes – leading to fan boycotts and uproar from local residents.

Throughout the 1990s, during the chairmanship of David Kohler, a “Kohlerdome” was proposed, which would have seen a retractable roof and a pitch placed on a hovercraft that would have been moved in and out of the stadium on match days.

When the club was taken over by Mike Watson-Challis, the new chair announced plans to build a stadium next to the M1 motorway – proposals which were then bettered by his successor John Gurney, who announced that the stadium would be built on stilts above the M1 and also include an F1 Grand Prix track.

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