Coventry City to close Ricoh Arena stand for improved atmosphere

Ricoh Arena
Coventry City left Highfield Road and moved into the Ricoh Arena in 2005

Coventry City are to close one of their stands at the Ricoh Arena next season in a bid to improve the atmosphere at home games.

The League One club's record since returning to the 32,600 all-seater stadium in September has been poor, winning just five times in 21 games.

Ex-manager Steven Pressley and current boss Tony Mowbray pinpointed the lack of atmosphere as a telling factor.

"We are making a few changes," said chief executive Steve Waggott.external-link

"Largely to improve the atmosphere by bringing supporters closer together, but also to reduce the cost of opening the stadium completely when it is less than 50% full.

"We have spoken to and consulted a range of supporters on these changes and the reasons for them," he added in an announcement to season ticket holders.

"Coupled with a drop in prices, the feedback has been positive and there has been real understanding of what we are trying to do.

"Only the East and West Stands will be available for season ticket holders. The North Stand will only open for games when there is demand on a match-by-match basis."

Falling attendances
Coventry City attracted a gate of 27,306 when they hosted Gillingham on their return to the Ricoh Arena in September, helped by cheaper ticket prices. Since then, average attendances have dipped under 10,000, their lowest crowd being 6,885 for the visit of Scunthorpe United in February.

Coventry's announcement comes after the Ricoh Arena's owners, rugby union club Wasps, confirmed they are to play in front of a capacity crowd when they host Premiership neighbours Leicester on 9 May.

Wasps set a Premiership record for an attendance at a regular club ground when they attracted 28,254 to their first game at the Ricoh Arena in December against London Irish, and they have continued to average crowds of more than 20,000 since then.

In contrast, Coventry's average gate since returning to the stadium has been just under 10,000.

Only seven times in 21 games have they attracted more than 10,000, and three of those were in their first three games back in Coventry following a 14-month long exile in Northampton, which came as a result of a rent row with Coventry City Council.

Waggott said season ticket prices will be reduced for the 2015-16 season, whichever division Coventry are in next term.

City need a point from their final game at Crawley on Sunday to be sure of staying up.

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