Chris Errington's Plymouth Argyle Press Box View
ARGYLE will clearly benefit from the plans unveiled by their owner and chairman James Brent for Higher Home Park.
Subject to planning permission, the Pilgrims will finally get a new grandstand – 11 years after the rest of the stadium was redeveloped.
Had I been told in January 2002, when 'phase one' was completed, that I would still be reporting from the same Press box in March 2013 I would not have believed it.
The facilities in the Mayflower Grandstand were well past their best even then.
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Now, all this time later, Brent has come up with plans not only to enhance Home Park but also the surrounding area.
They include a 1,500-seat ice rink, 10-screen cinema and 120-room hotel, plus restaurants and shops.
This is not an issue solely about Argyle, though. It is far more than that. It can also provide a boost for a city that really needs one.
And, as far as I can see, it can be achieved without impacting on the 'green lung' of Central Park.
Plymouth has seen the closure of its airport, the decline of Devonport Dockyard and the financial collapse of Argyle.
A short distance up the A38, the contrast in fortunes for Exeter has been considerable.
The Met Office have relocated there, John Lewis have opened a department store in the city centre and Swedish furniture firm IKEA are soon to set up shop.
They also have one of the top rugby union clubs in the country in Exeter Chiefs.
Plymouth, it seems, cannot compete with Exeter when it comes to retail, and possibly business as well, but it can thrive as a tourism and sports/leisure venue.
There is a spectacular natural waterfront, even though it is a bit battered in places.
The Life Centre is a facility without equal in the whole of the South West and capable of staging international events.
A new grandstand at Home Park, with an adjacent ice rink, would further enhance the area.
I have seen a lot of architects' drawings for the redevelopment of all, or parts, of Argyle's stadium in my time as the football writer for The Herald.
I can remember plans for a 'Tradium' in the 1990s when Dan McCauley was chairman.
More recently, there was the talk of Home Park hosting World Cup football, under the ill-fated 'New World' board of directors, led by Sir Roy Gardner and Keith Todd.
I can understand, therefore, why some people will be underwhelmed by Brent's plans.
"I will believe it when I see it' or 'it will never happen' were two comments I heard at Home Park on Saturday.
Brent, however, has invested a lot of time into the project and I believe he has the drive to see it through to completion.
He has stressed it will not cost Argyle any money as it will be funded by his company, the Akkeron Group, from other profitable parts of the development, such as the cinema.
And Brent has also promised the new grandstand will be built whether the Pilgrims are in the Football League or (hopefully not) the Conference.
There will be doubters out there, for sure, but Argyle's owner has staked his reputation on delivering this development.
Some supporters have questioned why spend money on a new grandstand, not on players to keep the Pilgrims in the Football League.
There is some merit to that argument, but Brent, ever since his takeover in October 2011, has made it clear he wants Argyle to become a sustainable club.
The word 'sustainable' is one he uses a lot when talking about the future for the Pilgrims.
He believes, and I agree with him, Argyle need to generate more income (on matchdays and non-matchdays) to fund a winning football team.
When the Pilgrims were successful in the Championship in the last decade, their average attendances were only around 13,000.
Without a wealthy benefactor, and not much income other than gate money plus TV and sponsorship revenues, they eventually could not afford the lifestyle they had become accustomed to.
That set off a chain of events which led to the Pilgrims ending up in administration in 2011.
Relying on someone, or a group of people, to bankroll a football club – especially in these challenging economic times –is simply not sensible.
One issue that does interest me about the plans for the new grandstand is there does not seem to be any mention of a seating capacity.
There is reference to the fact there will be more seats than in the existing structure.
However, there is terracing at the front of the Mayflower Grandstand, and only seating in the upper level.
I know that has raised concerns among some supporters about the capacity of the stadium should Argyle return to the championship, or higher, in the future.
However, there are reassurances the design of the stadium will allow for extra seating to be added should the need arise.
A consultation process on the whole development will now take place, leading up to a planning application by the end of April.
Brent hopes work will start in September. It promises to be an important few months, on and off the pitch, for the long-term prosperity of Argyle.