City are preparing to build on a high volume of sell-outs at the Etihad by adding a third tier to their South Stand, taking the capacity to 54,000 – leapfrogging Newcastle and Sunderland to command the third highest capacity in the Premier League, after Manchester United and Arsenal.
Subject to consultation with the local community in east Manchester, a planning application will be submitted in the autumn which may also include proposals to expand the north side of the ground. That could see the stadium capacity reach closer to Arsenal's 60,300.
City's feasibility studies for ways of expanding their ground have included an analysis of lifting off the roof and creating an entire new tier to boost capacity to over 70,000, hugely increasing match-day income. But a more organic type of development – increasing the stadium bit by bit – is considered the best way to accommodate new capacity as the club's growth brings in more fans. The stand, scheduled to open in the summer of 2015 and subject to public consultation work which begins next month, will accommodate a substantial number of far lower priced tickets season tickets costing under £300. The reorganisation of the ground will also see away fans moved – something City fans have been asking for over a number of years.
The plans, scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015 and subject to public consultation which begins next month, include lower-priced season tickets costing under £300. Tickets sold on match days will make up the rest of the extra capacity which the club does now need. Some hospitality sales will also be taken up in the new tier, which the club will show has been drawn up in keeping with the rest of the 11-year-old stadium.
The Etihad, which was designed by architects Arup for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, has a capacity of 47,805 and the extra tier will take it well above Liverpool and Chelsea, other clubs who desperately need a way of increasing match-day revenues but do not have the room to expand that City enjoy.