SLIDESHOW: Behind the scenes at The Walks
PUBLISHED: 08:00 13 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:24 10 September 2010
The transformation of Lynn Town's decaying old stadium to one geared up for Conference standard football in less than ten weeks has been hailed a 'miracle'.
The transformation of Lynn Town's decaying old stadium to one geared up for Conference standard football in less than ten weeks has been hailed a “miracle”.
King's Lynn's new era may have officially started on Saturday with a short trip to Long Sutton Athletic but club chief executive Keith Chapman cannot wait for tonight's visit by Championship neighbours Norwich City.
The Chapman family has ploughed £150,000 into the stadium revamp after being awarded the leasehold by West Norfolk council back in January. With the council matching the Chapman's pledge, the ground's Main Stand has been completely overhauled with new toilets blocks, ticket box office facilities and turnstiles being installed. The home and away changing rooms have been totally gutted and the old Blue and Gold supporters' bar has also been replaced with a modern sports bar.
“We didn't actually start work here until the middle of May for a few reasons but the bulk of the work will be done in time of the game against Norwich,” said Chapman. “It has been a real uphill struggle and we have been putting in the hours to make sure it is pretty much ready for the game. I think the people coming along [tonight] will really notice the changes and it's much more family friendly now than what it has been.”
The former club, which folded last year over an unpaid tax bill and mounting debts, was thrown out of Conference North after failing a league ground grading - a costly mistake Chapman doesn't want to repeat.
“We needed a fresh start and we needed to get away from the old. We can now build from this and move onwards and upwards,” he said. “We have done all of this for the long term and to help build a future for the club I think upgrading the stadium to the Conference standard is also a clear indication of where we want to be. I am very proud of what has been done here because it has not been easy and it's going to be a fantastic for the start of the season.”
The former gym has been transformed into a Café Verde outlet which will be open during the week to generate extra revenue.
“We know football cannot work on its own - it's impossible - so we had to put in these new things, like the café, because without them admission would be between £12 and £15,” he said.
As well as the major revamp of the Main Stand, the playing surface at The Walks has been re-seeded and ready for the upcoming season. Linnets' joint boss Gary Setchell has had a 'hands on' role alongside Kevin Boon during the ground's summer makeover and cannot wait to welcome the Canaries.
“We have been able to attract players because of the stadium and the facilities we now have,” he said. “The guys who we have shown around have been really impressed with the stadium and I think the renovation has been nothing short of a miracle.”
Watch an exclusive slideshow of pictures showing the transformation behind-the-scenes at The Walks only on edp24.co.uk/sport