Stadium MK expansion to 32,000 in £56m plan

Stadium MK
Stadium MK was built with scope to put seats in the unused upper tier

MK Dons have confirmed the second phase of their Stadium MK development will be completed by the start of next season.

The work, which will increase the ground's capacity from 22,000 to 32,000, is being funded by a new £56m retail development on the site.

Stadium MK has remained a work in progress since it was opened in 2007.

"It's something we've worked so hard for over the last few years," Dons chairman Pete Winkelman told BBC Three Counties Radio.

"Being able to secure these kinds of deals in this kind of economic climate is a great green light for growth in Milton Keynes."

The League One side have attracted an average attendance of 8,111 this season, with their highest crowd of 10,554 - against Scunthorpe in October - over 21,000 seats short of the ground's proposed capacity.

But the stadium has showed its potential to attract larger crowds through other events.

Rugby union team Northampton Saints have played Heineken Cup games in front of crowds of 21,309 and 18,231 against Ulster and Perpignan respectively.

And 20,222 fans watched England Under-21s beat Bulgaria 2-0 in a European Championship qualifier in November 2007.

"It's not about the capacity for the football in the short term," Winkelman added. "It's about the cultural infrastructure of Milton Keynes.

"We set our stall out that we would go and build a Uefa standard stadium. It's already brought us international games and of course the Saints games last year.

"So it's really about all the things we can do if we get the stadium finished."

The work on the stadium, which is in the Denbigh area of Milton Keynes, will focus on putting seats in the currently unused second tier.

Initial plans for the project included the possibility of adding a third tier and taking the capacity to 45,000.

The retail park, which will be called MK1, will include spaces for four major retailers.

For more on this story watch BBC Look East on Tuesday, 8 November at 1830 GMT on BBC ONE.

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