Northampton Saints' new Barwell stand work begins

Artist impression of Barwell Stand Image copyright Northampton Saints
Image caption The new Barwell Stand replaces the Sturtridge Pavilion on the north end

Work to build a new stand at the home of Northampton Saints rugby club has begun.

The Barwell Stand will replace the Sturtridge Pavilion which has overlooked the pitch at Franklin's Gardens for 50 years.

When finished it will increase the capacity of the stadium by 1,900 to accommodate more than 15,500 people.

It is hoped the club will be able to encourage a Heineken Cup quarter final once the work is complete.

To do that, rules state the ground requires a minimum capacity of 15,000.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Sturtridge Pavilion is about 50 years old

A club spokesman said extra space was needed as it had operated at an average of 98% capacity during the past five years' Premiership matches.

The all-seated stand will include a new hospitality suite, members' bar and improved disability access.

Access to the stadium is being diverted via Abbey Street while the work is carried out.

It will be built in time for the 2015-16 season.

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