Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Suite Dreams; Chelsea FC Unveils Its Swanky New US-Style Business Suites, the First in the UK, This Saturday, and It's a Trend That's Gathering Pace among Other Clubs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Suite Dreams; Chelsea FC Unveils Its Swanky New US-Style Business Suites, the First in the UK, This Saturday, and It's a Trend That's Gathering Pace among Other Clubs

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SPITTLES

CORPORATE hospitality reaches a new height on Saturday at Chelsea's ground, Stamford Bridge, when US-style business suites make their debut in the UK. It is also the first clash this season between Chelsea and Arsenal.

However, the suites are much more than flashy executive boxes for football-crazy entrepreneurs. They are being marketed as fully serviced offices and boardrooms at a premium west London address. The suites form part of the newly built West Stand, the final phase of redevelopment at Chelsea Village.

Economic slowdown means the timing is not perfect. But Chelsea FC chairman Ken Bates says the new Millennium Suites offer "a unique business and entertainment package" in the current football scene.

Small, medium and large suites are for sale, ranging from 42sq m to 80sq m.

The suites, each with either 16 or 24 external pitch-side seats, are furnished with central heating and air conditioning, ISDN lines, two plasma screens, a designer kitchen and bar and marble cloakrooms. The cheapest suite costs [pound]600,000 a year, with the most expensive rising to [pound]1 million. Leases of five and 10 years are available.

The football connection is clearly the big draw, but the suites provide top office accommodation, according to Noel D'abo, a spokesman for the marketing company Interim Links Limited.

They are secure, have their own staffed reception, two underground car parking spaces and are open 365 days a year. It is also possible for businesses to share the facility.

Roy Keane, Manchester United's fiery captain, famously slammed prawn sandwich-munching business types who had no passion for the game, but executive boxes at top clubs account for about 10 per cent of turnover. These days, anything connected to Premiership football seems to sell well.

Arsenal is another club seeking to exploit commercial property opportunities at its proposed new stadium on railway land at Ashburton Grove, Drayton Park.

The 60,000-seat stadium will include office suites, conference and exhibition space, while linked buildings will have leisure and retail space, overlooked by swanky new housing. …

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