Emirates Stadium Week continues today on Arsenal.com as we look back on the inception and construction of the Gunners' state-of-the-art new ground.
Here are some of the most memorable quotes on Arsenal's new home dating back as far as October 2003:
"In terms of funding it is a complicated process. We are dealing with a number of banks who have to go off to credit committees. We are making good progress and we would hope to be able to come to some kind of conclusion by the end of the year. We feel fairly confident but we have to put a bit of caution into that because we haven't actually achieved it yet. However we are working very hard to do it. We can predict returns based on the number of people attending and the price they are going pay. We have very good coverage ratios on the project. When we have gone to banks to go through the projects we have got coverage rate far above the minimum. Investment in the stadium has got a very good [rate of] return in the long term."
Arsenal's Managing Director, Keith Edelman, on funding for the new stadium project
"We now have a stadium design that is fully developed. We
have a fixed price contract agreed with Sir Robert McAlpine. They
have been outstanding so far at Lough Road and we are delighted to
have them as our contractor for the new stadium. Depending on
financing, we are ready to start construction of the stadium in the
first quarter of next year. It is a substantial project. We have
received, in total, planning consent for 372,000 square metres or
approximately 4 million square feet. That makes this one of the
largest regeneration developments in London. We only wanted to
build a new stadium and stay in Islington. This was our first
choice and that of many of our supporters."
Arsenal Director, Danny Fiszman, speaking at the Club AGM
"We believe we have now effectively concluded the pre construction phase of the project and secured the Stadium for Arsenal with all its benefits. This is a very considerable achievement given the complexity of the project across an enormous range of issues and that, in addition to the Stadium, we will also be delivering one of the largest regeneration schemes in the country. A lot of people have worked very hard to bring us this far but I would particularly like to thank Islington Council, who have worked alongside us from the outset, the London Development Agency and the Mayor for all their support. We now look forward to working with our banking group and chosen constructor, McAlpine, as we move into the construction phase of the project."
Edelman on securing funding for the new stadium
"This is excellent news for Arsenal. Over recent years we
have established ourselves as one of the leading clubs in Europe
and the Stadium, which we can now positively look forward to, will
provide us with the opportunity to sustain and build on this
position. The financing of the Group is now very complex, but
throughout the financing structure we have retained the twin
objectives of continued investment in our outstanding playing squad
and separate funding for the building of the Stadium."
Arsenal Chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, on funding the new stadium
"Moving to a new stadium is obviously a big change for the
Club, after calling Highbury home for so long. I believe moving
from Highbury is the right decision in order to progress. The new
stadium will be impressive and will definitely be the envy of
clubs, not only in England, but across the world. It's great
that the funding has been confirmed and the Club can now look
forward to moving to the new stadium in August 2006."
The then-Arsenal captain, Patrick Vieira
"Obviously I will regret the team leaving Highbury,
although I have not played here as long as some of my team-mates,
it has a special atmosphere for me. But if you want to move forward
and be a bigger team in Europe, you need this kind of great
stadium. And for the fans it will be lovely. A lot of my friends
and a lot of people in London can't get tickets for Highbury,
so it's great that many more supporters will be able to go to
matches in the new stadium."
Vieira's successor, Thierry Henry
"I've enjoyed every minute that I've played at
Highbury; it's a special place. But I think everyone knows that
this great old stadium isn't sufficient for a Club of
Arsenal's ambitions. Certainly most games we play could be
watched by thousands more who can't get tickets. Moving just
down the road to a 60,000 capacity stadium seems the ideal solution
to me. I don't know if I'll get to play there which is a
shame, but the Club deserves it."
Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp
"We're a very proud old club with a wonderful heritage
and a unique, special old stadium but we're now in the position
where I think staying at Highbury is detrimental to the Club's
future progress. It's fantastic that the funding for the
project is now in place and means that everyone can now fully focus
on actually building the stadium. I've learned the 'Arsenal
way' of doing things during more than 20 years with the Club,
and I'm confident that the new stadium will be built with
traditional Arsenal values of respect and integrity at heart."
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown
"With a new 60,000 capacity stadium in the pipeline,
it's a pretty exciting time to be at Arsenal. Obviously the
players have got to make sure we're still right at the top by
the time it comes to make the move, but the new stadium should
ensure that we can compete with the very biggest clubs in the
Europe. Highbury is special to the fans of course, but also to the
players, I'll certainly never forget the first time I played
there. We'll all be sad to see it go but moving to a new
stadium will be an exciting new chapter in the Club's long and
England defender Ashley Cole
"I think it will be good for the Club to move. We are a big
Club, I think close to being one of the biggest, but if you look at
most of Europe's other top sides, the capacity of their
stadiums is in a different league to ours and I'm sure Arsenal
have enough fans to fill a much bigger stadium for most
Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg
"Arsenal needs to move, I know there are massive queues for
season tickets at Highbury and we would regularly be able to fill a
60,000 stadium. The new stadium will definitely make the Club
bigger and stronger. We couldn't move outside Islington, people
have mentioned other areas, but Arsenal just can't do that,
it's a north London club. The new stadium is only down the
road, still in Islington, which is perfect. Now the funding is in
place, it takes us another step closer. It's still a couple of
years away, but I just hope I get a chance to play there!"
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour
"I personally think that if we are going to progress as a
football club and continue to challenge the likes of Manchester
United, Real Madrid and AC Milan, then we need a bigger stadium.
Our supporters have been terrific, there are 38,000 at every home
game, but to actually compete with the big teams you need a lot
more people. It's also important to stay in the borough,
because Arsenal Football Club has always been associated with
Islington and Highbury."
Arsenal's assistant manager, Pat Rice
"To take the Club forward, the new stadium is absolutely
necessary. Highbury is a part of my life but that is countered by
the realisation that if you want to be up there with the big clubs
in Europe, you need a bigger stadium. There are a lot of Arsenal
fans out there who don't get the chance to watch the team at
the moment. I think a new stadium would be a huge success, although
it will be a wrench to leave Highbury. It's important to stay
in Islington, so we are not moving home, we are just moving
Arsenal legend Liam Brady
"If we wish to be real challengers to the best in Europe,
this is the way forward, it is the only way forward. I can't
imagine the Borough of Islington without Arsenal Football Club. If
it's the Arsenal I know, the move will be done in style.
It's about whether you want to be the best, or settle for
second or third best."
Former Arsenal goalkeeper, Bob Wilson
"It's heartbreaking to hear about Arsenal vacating
Highbury but it is absolutely necessary. The feelings I have for
the Club and the memories of those great days and nights, the
atmosphere generated by our passionate supporters, the glory of
winning the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1969 and then the
'double.' It was absolutely unbelievable. But if we are to
keep up with the rest of the big clubs and remain a leading club in
world football then we really have to move."
Arsenal's 1971 Double-winning captain, Frank McLintock
"It obviously depends on the level of sponsorship that someone comes up and offers us. But it is also linked to whether we feel the sponsor is appropriate to be associated with the Club. In the States, some of the stadia have got substantial amounts from sponsorship, up to £8 million or £9 million a year, which is a considerable amount of money over 20 years. But no one in the UK has ever got substantial amounts; maybe less than £1 million or possibly £200,000-a-year. But it all depends on the level of interest that you get. You can't really gauge that until you've got a definite project and then you can go out and talk to people."
Edelman on the naming rights at the new stadium
"There were two big construction challenges. The first was putting the bridges over the railway line. This is difficult because you have to close the lines and if you don't get it right you miss your timing and you have to wait. One of the bridges is six lanes wide. The other is smaller but it still pretty big. However this has now been achieved. The second major change was getting the waste transfer unit moved. We built a new one at the Lough Road site and we managed to move [work] there a week early. So that is very good news. We are on schedule and moving ahead nicely. At the moment we have six of the eight cores [at the new stadium] up and we are just putting upper tiers on them. Two cores are not up yet because that is where the [original] waste transfer unit sits. But we are knocking that down."
Edelman on the latest developments at the new stadium
"The sheer size and scale of this deal is an amazing opportunity for Arsenal. We are delighted to have Emirates as our partner and sponsor. Emirates is a quality airline and an established global brand, with a proven track record in football and sport sponsorship. This long-term association is an excellent opportunity for both of us. It will help Arsenal reach new markets and build on our existing fan base across the world, thanks in no small part to the airline's global route network. We are grateful to Emirates for its faith in us and look forward to working with them."
Edelman announcing the stadium's naming deal with Emirates
"This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sponsor such
a major new stadium and club, and represents a win-win partnership
for both Emirates and Arsenal. Arsenal Football Club has proved
itself as one of the world's best, with an outstanding record
in the English Premiership including, of course, being the current
Premiership Champions, and also remaining unbeaten for the last 48
league matches. Sports sponsorships provide an international
platform to connect with our customers. We believe sponsorship is
one of the best ways of getting closer to our customers. It allows
us to share and support their interests and to build a personal
relationship with them. There is no greater vehicle for this than
through English football and we are looking forward to a long and
very happy relationship with Arsenal."
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates, on the deal with Arsenal
"I am delighted to be involved in this special event. I
have so many great memories of Highbury and having a little piece
of its history buried here in the new stadium will remind everyone
of the tremendous traditions and success achieved there over the
last 91 years."
Arsène Wenger on the time-capsule ceremony at the new stadium
"Emirates Stadium will provide our supporters with a superb range of refreshment facilities throughout all areas the stadium. We are delighted to be appointing Delaware North as our catering partner in a deal which we believe is the largest, individual football club catering contract ever signed. We are confident Delaware North will deliver a very high standard of food, drink and service at Emirates Stadium which will greatly enhance our supporters' match-day experience."
Edelman announces Delaware North as a catering partner at the new stadium
"Reaching the half way point in construction is both a great achievement and credit to all those involved and also a very exciting time for the Club - with just over a year left now until we play the first match at Emirates Stadium, we can really start to look forward to the great future ahead of us at this fantastic new home."
Wenger on reaching the half-way stage of construction
"We are extremely pleased with the progress that has been made to date in the construction of Emirates Stadium. By completing the lifts of the roof structure recently, which was just one of the many feats we have achieved in the project, we have now reached the highest point in construction. We are looking forward to completing the construction of Emirates Stadium in time for the start of the 2006/07 season."
Sir Robert McAlpine Project Director, Rolv Kristiansen, on the completion of the roof structure
"There is still some finishing off work to do of course. There is a lot of cleaning up but essentially the executive boxes are complete and Club Level is done. We have a little bit of work to be done on the general concourse but we are practically there. We are ready to go. We will get the stadium from the builders very soon. We are looking forward to that and our three 'ramp-up' events. There will be a shareholders event in the middle of July, then a Members Day for about 20,000 supporters. After that of course there is Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial on July 22 before the season starts on August 19 with Aston Villa.
"We will be naming parts of the stadium but we will not be
releasing that for a bit yet. However there will be restaurants and
bars that will be named to give an historic feedback to Highbury
which we've asked supporters to vote on via the website."
Edelman on applying the final touches to Emirates Stadium and the naming of different parts of the Gunners' new home
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