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Dan Meis: We are making a home, not a building

Architect for Everton’s new ground says he quickly understood how important this project is to Toffees fans

Everton FC

Everton’s new stadium architect Dan Meis said he is honoured to be tasked with such a vital project, as designs for the club’s new ground were revealed on Thursday.

Meis was speaking at the Club’s official unveiling of the stadium plans at the Titanic Hotel, where he received a standing ovation, just yards from the planned site of Bramley-Moore Dock, which is projected to be finished by the 2023-24 season. He said:

“I understand the responsibility and I want you to know this is a labour of love for me. I appreciate the trust you have put in me.

“The first time I met the Club, I realised it wasn’t a building but a home... and a unique opportunity in my career.”

Meis was also praised by Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright, who praised him for the connection he has established with the Club, saying he has ‘become a Blue.’

On the ground itself, Meis said that the project, which he has dubbed ‘Bluenami’, derives from his desire to fuse a visually stunning design with the traditional ‘charm and magic’ of a football ground, as well as the history of Everton and the city of Liverpool:

“There is the history of the Football Club but when we started looking at Bramley-Moore Dock we had to consider another great history - that of the city.

“What we couldn’t lose was the charm and magic that comes from a traditional, proper football stadium.”

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with the Liverpool Echo, Meis reiterated that he wanted to maintain many of Goodison Park’s most endearing aspects, but with a obviously modernised twist.

He added how important it was to keep the ‘bear pit’ atmosphere which Goodison is synonymous with, saying that he wanted to keep fans as close to the pitch as possible:

“I knew this from the very beginning, it didn’t matter what the building looked like, in the end it had to feel as close, as tight and as intimidating as Goodison Park and I feel like we’ve really gotten to that.

“I don’t think there is a seat that’s further away from the pitch than it could absolutely be.

“Interestingly, and as much as I’ve looked at this over the last three years, it was just seeing the VR that affected me, it feels like Goodison, the roof is right there. It’s not a big, expansive, multi-purpose stadium like I’ve seen elsewhere.”

Meis also shared his thoughts on the proposed capacity for the new ground, which has been a bone of contention among Evertonians throughout the project.

In December, it was revealed that the new stadium would initially hold 52,000, which is an increase of more than 10,000 on Goodison, with the possibility of expanding to as much as 62,000 in the future.

And while some fans bemoaned a lack of ambition in the starting numbers, Meis believes it is the right figure to begin with, adding:

“When a stadium is loud and full, that experience is great and it doesn’t matter if it’s 40,000 like Juventus or 90,000, but it’s got to be full.

“So to go from where we are at Goodison, to something much larger, would be a mistake and that’s not to say there wouldn’t be a lot of demand but I don’t know if that’s necessarily better.

“What I do know, architecturally, those last ten, 15, 20,000 seats, they cost the most and they are not generating the [same] kind of revenue because they are furthest away from the pitch. There is a diminishing return, if you will.

“On this site we’re pretty tight and so there is a physical limit to how much we could build and I think that’s good because it’s part of what has driven us to what we’ve spoken about already, keeping the pitch tight and seats right on top of the pitch.

“I guess you could argue ‘is 53 better than 52?’ but I’m certainly an advocate, for now, that smaller – it’s obviously a lot bigger than Goodison – is better.”

Meis added that, while he has been involved in football-related projects before, such as designing a stadium for AS Roma, this has been ‘unlike anything I’ve had in my entire career’, and said he has been truly humbled by the way the club and fans have all taken to him and his ideas.