But the interesting thing about this stadium is not only its architectural project, but the management challenges posed to the club’s management team. The challenge was threefold: respond to the President’s aspirations, meet the demands of Gloucestershire County and the town of Stroud in which it is located, and make the project economically viable. Difficulties that explain why Zaha Hadid won the contest in 2016, but Forest Green did not get a building license until late last year.
The first difficulty was the dimension of the project itself. The EcoPark responds to the modern concept of a comprehensive stadium, including both the building where the matches are held and a sports science centre, training facilities and a business park for green technology companies, with commercial and industrial offices built sustainably. This idea will make the stadium profitable both on matchdays and the rest of the days of the year. An ambitious idea that collided with the mayor of the city of Stroud, headquarters of the club.
The tradition of urban planning licenses in the United Kingdom requires that any project, from a house to a stadium, receives approval by the majority of its neighbours. The five thousand seats and the business park could mean, especially on matchdays, traffic jams on the nearby M5 motorway, and therefore, inconveniences if the Forest Green did not properly manage the parking and accesses. Besides that, it faced the challenge of erecting a stadium in the AON environment, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Special landscape protection areas that intend to keep intact the appearance of the English countryside. Consequently, it was necessary to convince the city council and the neighbours that they were not going to saturate the city on the specific matchdays and to permanently collapse the roads with the business park. And also, to Gloucestershire County that the stadium itself would not undermine the landscape protection of the AONs surrounding Stroud.