|Northampton Saints (1888–present)|
Franklin's Gardens is a purpose-built rugby stadium in Northampton, England. It is the home stadium of Northampton Saints. The stadium holds 13,591 people. The stadium also has 40 corporate boxes. Each can hold from 8 to 24 people. The four stands are: Tetleys Stand; Burrda Stand; Church's Stand; and Sturtridge Pavilion. It is also a Northampton conference centre as well as the only UK Aviva Premiership Rugby ground with its own cenotaph, the setting for a moving ceremony every Remembrance Weekend.
The Northampton board announced in May 2009 that they would be applying to increase stadium capacity to 17,000 with the redevelopment of the North Stand. This would be funded by an investment by supermarket chain Asda, who would build a new store on the land currently used as training pitches. The new ASDA would represent a £40million investment in the St James area of Northampton and it has been claimed that this would also create up to 400 new jobs. However, it is unclear how many jobs would be lost in existing businesses in the town if the out-of-town retail development was to take place.
The History of the Gardens
The Gardens, originally known as Melbourne Gardens, were created by John Collier, and after his death in 1886 they were bought by John Franklin, a successful hotelier, who renamed them Franklin’s Gardens the following year.
In 1888 the Gardens were sold for £17,000 to the Northampton Brewery Company who started making extensive improvements. New features included a running track, bicycle track, cricket ground, swimming pool, bear pit, a large ornamental lake, an improved monkey house and a larger zoological garden.
Franklin’s Gardens was described as the "Champs Elysees of Northampton" and trams ran from the town centre every few minutes for a penny. Home matches began in Abbey fields, next door to Franklin’s Gardens and it wasn’t until the late 1880s when the Saints moved to Franklin’s Gardens.
At the end of the 1896/97 season a new stand was built by Mr A Dunham’s building company, 45 feet long and costing £45 5s. It was carpeted and reserved for members paying 10s 6d for season tickets. Ladies got away with paying only five shillings!
On 9 October 1920, a two-page advertisement in the Independent appeared offering 15,000 shares in a new company, Franklins Gardens Sports and Pleasure Co Ltd. The company prospectus proposed to turn the site into a sports complex, allowing the Saints to play at the Gardens in return for a percentage of the gate.
During the Second World War Franklin’s Gardens was used for livestock. However that didn’t last long, as there was a new-look Franklin’s Gardens in, with its £6,000 Member’s stand.
The 1966/67 season kicked off with style with the opening of the Peter Haddon designed Gordon Sturtridge Pavilion, marked by a floodlit game between the Saints and an R E G Jeeps XV. The pavilion enhanced the Gardens’ reputation for being one of the finest rugby grounds in the country.
During the 1976/77 season the club acquired a four-acre training pitch on a 60 year lease at the back of the ground and in November 1977, the committee pulled off its biggest coup by buying Franklin’s Gardens outright for £30,000.
During the early 1990s a raft of temporary stands increased the capacity up to 10,000. Then in 2001 the stadium underwent a complete re-build. The fans got their first look of the £6 million new look Franklin’s Gardens on 8 September 2001.
The Tetley’s and South stands were opened formally by Ian McGeechan with the horseshoe stadium completed in summer 2002 with the building of the Church’s Stand, opened by five Saints legends. But there was more development to come in 2005 when an extension to the South Stand became the final piece to the Franklin’s Gardens jigsaw.
With a capacity of 13,591, 48 executive boxes, numerous bars and hospitality areas, the Heart 96 Village, 1,200 car parking places and three training pitches Franklin’s Gardens is widely considered one of the best stadiums in British rugby.
Franklin's Gardens is located in the St James district of Northampton, approximately one mile from the town centre 
The Tetley's Stand holds 6,000 (est) people and has 19 executive boxes. The stand's capacity is split between the Gordon Terrace (named after former club secretary Jerry Gordon) and seating. Unlike premier league football stadiums, standing is allowed at rugby stadiums and the terracing was included as a specific part of the design. All of the people in the stand are under cover.
The Tetley's Stand also includes the club's major conferencing facilities, including the Rodber Suite, Captains' Suite and Heroes' Bar. There is full wireless internet access throughout the stand.
The Burrda Stand
In 2005 the South Stand was doubled in size raising the Gardens capacity from 12,100 to 13,591. The redevelopment involved extending the South Stand over the lake in the village area of the ground to make room for additional seating, seven new boxes, a premium members' club, as well another bar and extra toilet facilities. The South stand extension was finished in the 2005/2006 season. At the start of the 10/11 season is was announced that the South stand will be renamed the Burrda Stand after the club's new kit suppliers.
The Church's Stand
The Church's Stand is the other all seater stand. It was the last part of the old stadium to be developed and completed the horseshoe in the summer of 2002. It was opened by five club legends, former captains – Ron Jacobs, Don White, Gary Pearce, David Powell and Vince Cannon in November 2002.
The stand replaced the old Members' Stand which had lasted since the 1920s. It contains both the home and away dressing rooms, TV camera gantry, press bench, press room and a bar.
The Sturtridge Pavilion
This is to the North of the ground and is made up entirely of Corporate Boxes. Also the pavilion can be rented out for different events like Weddings, Exhibitions, Business meetings etc. This is the area which is being considered for re-development
The New North Stand
The proposed new North Stand would have 3,500 new seats, taking overall capacity to 17,000, a large public bar on the ground floor, food and beverage outlets on a first floor concourse (similar to the current South Stand), 10 corporate boxes (less than at present) on the second floor and a function room on the third floor that will include a balcony overseeing the pitch. There will be an improved, state-of-the-art stadium control room, as well as significantly improved disabled facilities, toilets and first aid.
The club argue that the stadium expansion is dependent on any planning consent given to ASDA. The club contend that the money from ASDA will be used solely to cover the cost of improvements to the stadium and that neither the club nor any individual would profit financially from this deal.,
While the proposals for stadium expansion conform with current local and national planning policy, the associated retail developments would not comply with policies on restricting out-of-town retail development. In 2009, the Northampton Retail Strategy was produced by consultants CACI for Northampton Borough Council. This study concluded that further out-of-town retail development would harm the existing town centre.
Alternative measures for financing the stadium expansion include the club being offered a loan on favourable terms and/or alternative development taking place that conforms to planning policy.
Franklin's Gardens will appear in rugby challenge 2 video game.
The second LV= Cup final was played at the Gardens, seeing Gloucester beat Newcastle 34-7.
20 March 2011
|Gloucester||34 - 7||Newcastle Falcons|
|Try: Voyce 6'c, Fuimaono-Sapolu 57'c, Sharples 66'c, Dawidiuk 80'c
Con: Robinson (4/4)
Pen: Robinson 20', 51'
|Report||Try: Eves 74'c
Con: Gopperth (1/1)
Churchill Cup 2011
- List of rugby union stadiums by capacity
- List of English rugby league stadia by capacity
- List of European stadia by capacity
- Churchill Cup
- LV= CupAnglo-Welsh Cup
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