Architect Dan Meis revealed he has fallen “in love” with Everton and said the Club’s “vision” and strong identity will allow him to design a stadium at Bramley Moore Dock that will be “a model for football the world over.”
The American also declared his number one priority is maintaining what he described as “the magic of Goodison”, and building a “fan-first, football-first” home for “every Evertonian and for generations of their families”.
California-based Meis addressed supporters in a video shown at Tuesday night’s General Meeting, where Everton CEO Robert Elstone provided the latest stadium update.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time for us,” said Meis, whose past designs include LA’s Staples Center and the Paul Brown Stadium, home of NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. “I know there’s been a lot of anticipation about seeing the building coming along. We have done some work and I think 2018 is going to be a very exciting year for all of us as the project moves forward.
“I think people have heard me say many times that it’s pretty unusual for me to start a project with the kind of vision and brief that the Club provided for us.
“That was one of the reasons why I was first excited about the project, then I fell in love with the Club and Goodison, and it’s become a really unusual, very passionate project for me, and I think a career-defining one.
“That kind of strong vision about who the Club is, and who the community is, I have no doubt will create a unique building that will be a model for football the world over.”
As part of design planning, Meis, whose team have also created a stadium concept for Serie A giants AS Roma, has made numerous trips to the city of Liverpool and to Goodison Park.
And the man charged with inventing a showpiece waterfront venue for the Blues understands that capturing the essence of Everton and its current home is a fundamental part of the project.
“I think one of the most unique things about it, about the Club, is the notion of the The People’s Club,” he said. “In this case, that is translating into the architecture.
“You can’t see a game at Goodison and not understand how powerful the fans are to the outcome of the game and the support of the team. There’s no better home pitch advantage than a building like Goodison, and that fan-first attitude, and football-first attitude, has been at the core of everything we’re doing in looking at the early concept designs.
“I’ve been to Liverpool a number of times throughout the project and had the opportunity to meet [Evertonians] face-to-face. Again, there’s been this consistent. It would be easy for people to be sceptical or critical but everyone is excited and everyone has really been supportive in bringing true passion and ideas to it.
“That’s what makes this unique - it’s not just a building for a football club, it’s a home for every one of those people and for generations of their families.
“You look at Goodison and there are memories in that building that you can’t replace. I think the thing we think about most every day is to not lose that - the magic of Goodison… that history and the magic of the experience that people remember over years is something we want to bring to any new building.
“We’ve seen a lot of new buildings become very large, bloated and modern - yes; exciting - yes; spectacular - yes; but losing the intimacy and power of the experience of sitting as close to the pitch and as on top of the players as you can get. That has been the vision for the ultimate building.
“We have this incredible site on the river and the opportunity to do something that’s architecturally iconic and bring those two things together.
“I think we have the opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in any of the new buildings in the Premier League, and that’s a really incredible opportunity.”
Everton’s new stadium at the Bramley-Moore Dock is expected to cost half a billion. Plans for the Blues to relocate to the site in the north Liverpool docks are progressing with the city council acting as a Special Purchase Vehicle for funding.
It was revealed at the club’s general meeting on Tuesday that the local authority will provide two-thirds of the money required to build the proposed new venue.
But Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has conceded that the overall figure for a new purpose-built successor to Goodison Park is increasing to £500 million
“It’s nearer £500m, half a billion is the estimate,” said Kenwright.
“Half a billion is what we are dealing with at the moment.
“It factors in the necessary inflation and on spreadsheets every year, the inflation goes up.”
He added: “You heard the word ‘challenge’ a lot that the site is challenging. I’m sure you’ve been down there, it’s more than challenging!
“Robert (Elstone) said to get to that site the cost is so much more than at any other site because that’s what you’re dealing with.”
Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Everton’s deputy CEO, also confirmed in the meeting that Goodison will be preserved as a community asset once the club leaves.
She said: “We don’t leave our community – we will never abandon our spiritual home.