All change for ground as Town limber up
FOOTBALL is a 12-month business now – the close season is a thing of the past.While the 2001-2 season still hasn't officially finished – the World Cup final is still two days away – the 2002-3 season is already underway.
By Paul Geater
FOOTBALL is a 12-month business now – the close season is a thing of the past.
While the 2001-2 season still hasn't officially finished – the World Cup final is still two days away – the 2002-3 season is already underway.
The first round of the Intertoto Cup started last weekend as teams try to win places in the UEFA Cup.
And at Portman Road there's been no break either.
Yesterday as Town players report back for pre-season training, work was continuing to complete the redevelopment of the ground.
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The ugly temporary floodlights in front of the North Stand have been removed.
The new ones which will match those over the Greene King stand are due to be fitted in the middle of July.
But without the temporary pylons, the full size and impact of the new North Stand can be appreciated for the first time.
The roar that the fans produce there should give the team a massive boost as it aims to return to the Premiership at the first opportunity.
Part of the revolutionary air conditioning system for the new stand can be clearly seen on a fine day.
The back of the lower section opens to allow wind to whistle through the stand, this allows the pitch to dry off much easier than if it was in an enclosed bowl.
Another innovation is the installation of a perspex roof over part of the stand.
The back of the roof is clear to allow light into the stand, but the front has a solid roof so fans in the stand aren't dazzled by a low sun when they're trying to watch the match.
While all the seats are in place and the ground will be able to cope with its new capacity of more than 30,000 from the first home match against Leicester, the ground development won't be completed until about two months' later.
That will mean the entire development at the club, which has seen new stands replace Churchmans and the old North Stand as well as major improvements elsewhere, will have taken two and a half years after the first work started just weeks after Town's Wembley triumph against Barnsley.
The new Town superstore is to be opened in September in the corner of the Cobbold and North Stands.
This will be on two floors with a supporters' bar for the North Stand above.
The existing Ipswich Town shop in Portman Road is to be converted into a bar and lounge for visiting supporters who may have travelled a long way by the time they reach Portman Road.
Town officials hope that work will be completed on all areas of the ground by October, but concede that the timetable for much of the work around Portman Road has slipped slightly – they had hoped everything would be finished by the start of the new season.
Today is the closing date for applications for season tickets at the discounted rate and club officials have been encouraged by the number of people who have renewed their tickets despite the disappointment of relegation.
Prices will remain the same for season ticket holders next season if Ipswich go up – which will mean the same price for three consecutive years.
And football fans who enjoy our photographs of the action at Portman Road will be able to see things from a new angle from August.
The photographers' pits in front of the Britannia Stand are being filled in and new sites for them are being created in the North Stand – giving better camera angles to cover the action.