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After 25 years, what changes should be made to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light?

After twenty five years, Sunderland’s stadium is in need of renovation in many areas, so what changes would you like the club to make?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

The general state of the stadium and its surroundings should be addressed.

I walk to the stadium from the south, by walking over the Wearmouth Bridge. The painted bollards with the badge on and posters of big match moments are good, but they look shabby.

It’s time to either update them or get rid of them, because these are some of the first things that fans see when visiting, and the unkempt state of them is indicative of our last four years- not now, or the future.

Another thing I would focus on right now is the sound system.

It’s still pretty bad, depending on where you sit, as well as confusing for the fans when announcements and music can’t be heard. Also, it’s safety feature, which we need when all else fails.

On the subject of safety, let’s sort out better CCTV cameras and netting.

With the right equipment, we can start to remove the minority of idiots who are chucking stuff about, and we can also stop objects from raining down on home fans when we play well, which we will hopefully start to do at home once the World Cup break is out of the way.

If we do all of the above and we still have some cash left, can we get the spotlights going again? Having those beams piercing the air on a cold, dark winter’s evening was something to behold, and surely something that adds a touch of class to the stadium.

Saying that, we may have to have a whip round to pay the electric bill, so maybe just do the first three!

General Views of UK Sporting Venues Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Mark Roberts says…

Our stadium is creaking, there are rust patches in the gantries and poorly designed space in entrance areas.

It’s a pity that a creative use of space, such as mezzanine levels, were never planned. Space is tight in the access/entry/bar areas, as attendances in these open areas are close to capacity.

It definitely isn’t nice to be dripped on.

I sit in row twenty of the east stand and this season, myself and the surrounding fans have been sporadically showered on, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

With attendances at a reasonably high level, getting out of the stadium is trickier (unless we’re getting beat and people leave early).

After games, there must be 10,000+ fans trying to cross to the north or following the roads to the east or west. There is no police presence or lanes blocked off, and little common sense from some fans and some drivers.

I’ve seen buses charging through, cars bumping people, and objects thrown at cars, and it feels like something will have to give before action is taken. Closing the road thirty minutes before and after the game would not only be a safe option, but the correct decision.

I agree that the IT infrastructure needs an update, along with the CCTV and sound system. Any ‘fan’ committing criminal offences should be identified, charged and banned, both at home and away

Accessibility is also a problem.

At the last home game, I saw how two people in wheelchairs entered the stadium. They had to bang on a door and wait five minutes until someone let them in, which is not right.

Where is their dedicated entrance? Why do they have wait outside, and what are the accessible toilet facilities like? Every male toilet is pretty awful, and I don’t know if they get cleaned during the game. I’m guessing all toilets are in need of renovation, but three weeks won’t be enough.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but will anything change?

We haven’t exactly splashed the cash on the team, so it’s unlikely to be spent elsewhere. We have our heads above water on the pitch, but I’m still going to be soaking wet at the end of the game.

Joseph Tulip says…

It’s interesting that we’re talking about this issue after Sir Bob Murray was applauded onto the pitch at half time against Cardiff.

The stadium that Sir Bob built was cutting edge in its day, and was the best of the new structures at the time. Indeed, the design was surely based on Old Trafford, which was the standard bearer of the late 1990s.

Since then, stadium designs have evolved.

A decade after ours opened, we saw signs of a bigger surface area being used, with slightly shallower stands. This allows for greater foot room and space to walk along the rows, as well as bigger concourses allowing for standalone mobile food outlets and to relieve overcrowding.

We can’t change the structure that we were blessed with in 1997, and continue to benefit from in 2022.

At that time, there was huge pride in visiting what was then brand new stadium. Spending time in any part of it, whether on a match day, or during supporter meetings and functions, was a real joy.

The new seats aside (I’m not keen on the white corners- I think that could’ve been better), it’s well documented that the stadium is a bit tired.

In some ways, it’s almost stuck in the 1990s, a bit like a house that hasn’t been decorated. From the old signage on the concourses to the ageing sound system and decaying toilets, even the newer scoreboards are pinned between the original ‘Metro FM’ attachments!

Apart from the leaking roof and other essential repairs which need to be carried out, the stadium needs to feel fresh again.

Whether artwork is the answer, another attempt at naming bars after former players, or something completely different, I’m sure there will be no shortage of ideas.

Perhaps we need something to celebrate our current heroes, from Ross Stewart to Luke O’Nien. This could make the place feel fresh and of the present day, just it did back in 1997.

Finally, the path that leads past the away supporters’ buses, behind the North Stand, could do with street lighting. Walking along there in the dark is not pleasant.

A general view of the Stadium of Light


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