Sometimes you just don't mess with a good thing, and for all the missteps they may have taken in their first two years with Liverpool, the club's owners certainly understand the value of a club's history. While a preference for redeveloping Anfield was always, at best, just a preference, the gears have slowly been churning into motion and the club's leadership is making headway into the logistical issues that will make that preference become reality.
"I remember the first time John [Henry] and Tom [Werner] came to look at Liverpool before they bought it," Ian Ayre said during his recent tea break with Sports Illustrated. "I was the person showing them around. When we went into Anfield, John said to me, 'This is like Fenway. It's the same feeling. Why would we want to build a new stadium?'"
Henry and Werner are no strangers to renovations, having spent $285 million over the last ten years to make improvements to Fenway Park in Boston. While many changes were structural ones that would ensure the Red Sox and their fans could safely continue to call Fenway home for the next fifty years, there were also a variety of cosmetic changes made to bring back a retro feeling to the stadium while also improving the game day experience for fans. Ten years on, most die hard Red Sox fans and lovers of heritage architecture are happy that the team abandoned its original plans to build a new stadium all together.
If that sounds all too familiar then it's easy to see why Liverpool's American owners are keen on an Anfield redevelopment. Like any construction project that involves an old building crammed into a residential neighbourhood it's grown too big for, the redevelopment comes with many hurdles but Ayre insists the project is on track, starting with the acquisition of the properties surrounding the stadium.
"We said some months back it would take several months to improve that property acquisition situation," Ayre reiterated in advance of a meeting between all the key stakeholders in the project. "We're definitely on target so far. The No. 1 priority is to stay at Anfield, but there are two or three hoops to go through. The first is property acquisition. The second will be planning. And the third will be to build the thing. I would guess our next announcement on it will come sometime in May or June."
Fingers crossed, that announcement will be more along the lines of "all the properties have been purchased and now we're forging ahead with plans" and not "there's one hold out who will not sell even though Lucas has offered to adopt her." Regardless of the content of the announcement, construction would still be a long way off. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will the redeveloped Anfield be.