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New stand to open next month

PUBLISHED: 17:41 19 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:41 03 March 2010

IPSWICH Town's new North Stand is expected to be opened to the public for the first time next month - and some fans just can't wait to get back.

Part of the new stand will be open in time for the home game against Bolton Wanderers on November 18.

IPSWICH Town's new North Stand is expected to be opened to the public for the first time next month – and some fans just can't wait to get back.

Part of the new stand will be open in time for the home game against Bolton Wanderers on November 18.

When complete the stand will hold about 6,500 people, bringing the capacity of the entire Portman Road stadium up to 30,000.

Already the lower tier of the stand is in place, but club officials say it will not be possible to install seating in time for the West Ham match on October 28.

"Initially we had hoped to have the bottom tier open by the end of October, but it isn't a simple operation," said club spokeswoman Alesha Gooderham.

"You can't just put in the seats - you have to ensure that the entrances and exits are clear to get a ground safety certificate.

"It's not that work has been delayed at all, everything is going well according to plan, but we do have to ensure all the safety requirements are met," said Mrs Gooderham.

The Bolton match is not a fixed date, but is the fixture the club are looking at in their battle to get the first section of the North Stand open.

North Standers who have had to sit in the upper tier of the new Greene King Stand are to be offered the opportunity to return to their spiritual home.

Neil Martin and Grant Frenton-Jones, both from Clacton, currently sit in the South Stand and can't wait to get back to the opposite end of the ground.

Grant, 31, said: "The atmosphere will be so much better when the North is re-opened. The great thing about it was everybody knew those around them and it was easy to get a good atmosphere going, unfortunately a lot of us have been split up from friends in the South Stand."

Neil, 21, added: "The South is a great stand but it just doesn't feel the same as the North, it's only the old North fans who actually sing."

Paul Todd, from Braintree, also wants to reclaim his old seat. He said: "I come with a big group to every game and we have all said we are going to return to the North – there just doesn't seem to be the same atmosphere at the moment."

Tony Hines, 35, from Chantry, said: "It's a shame it's been delayed but I suppose these things happen. Personally I would much rather be in the North stand than the South."

Not all the North Standers will be able to return at once, the stand will open in sections over the next few months.

The stand is not expected to be completed until the start of the next football season in August next year.

While fans are still waiting for work to be completed on the North Stand UEFA president Lennart Johansson has opened the new South Stand.

He declared the stand open prior to kick-off at last night's game as hundreds of blue and white balloons were released inside the stadium.

WEBLINK: www.itfc.co.uk

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