‘IT is about finishing what we started’, writes Craig Lewis.
That is the message from Milton Keynes Dons chairman Pete Winkelman after details of a new £56million shopping park were revealed on Tuesday.
Outlets including Primark and Marks & Spencer will take pride of place in the MK1 Shopping Park, while the cash generated will pay for the completion of stadiummk. The development will also bring around 1,000 jobs to the city.
For Mr Winkelman it will mark the completion of his dream to bring a super stadium to Milton Keynes – a dream which was first revealed by the Citizen in February 2000.
This newspaper was the first to report how the music entrepreneur, who is also chairman of the consortium behind the project, Inter MK, planned to bring Wimbledon to the city and give them a spectacular new home to play in.
We printed the artist’s impression on the right on February 17, 2000. And although the look of the stadium has changed dramatically over the years, the intentions have not.
The shopping complex was always a massive part of the brand, while the completion of the upper bowl of stadiummk – which will take the capacity from 22,000 to 32,000 – will mean the ground will be capable of holding top level international matches.
Work on the MK1 Shopping Park is due to be started in the next few weeks and should be completed in time for the start of next season. When finished it will be home to retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Primark, Arcadia and River Island.
It will cover 235,000 sq ft and will be split into seven units, complete with 600 car parking spaces.
Work on both the shopping complex and the upper bowl will be carried out by the Buckingham Group, the company responsible for building stadiummk.
Mr Winkelman said: “In its own right it is an exciting development and, of course, it finishes the stadium.
“If people remember back to the start of the stadium there was nothing there. The first Chamber of Commerce awards were held with outside caterers. When the Queen opened the stadium the ballroom roof was still metal.
“We had agreed to further development to deliver UEFA specification. It has always been an integral part of the plan.”
The Dons supremo said he had feared the project might collapse ‘many times’, but heaped praise on what he calls ‘MK Incorporated’ – the various stakeholder groups including Milton Keynes Council and the city’s MPs who have backed the scheme.
He said: “Nobody else does it better than MK. All our stakeholders come together to give a united message.
“We have always relied on cross party support from the council. This is a sign of the strength of the MK economy. This city is open for business.”
He added that the development would also see the completion of the area surrounding the stadium, with kerbs, footpaths and trees added.
“This will be a big attraction for MK. It is in line with our green theme,” said Mr Winkelman.
“It is just so important to finish what I have started. We still have work to do to get the Arena completed, but finishing the stadium is about finishing what we started.”