'The greatest stadium in the world' - Tottenham's new home finally ready to open its doors

The long wait to open their new stadium will finally come to an end on Wednesday, with the club having eagerly awaited its completion

Chairman Daniel Levy has often been a divisive figure among Tottenham supporters and those who view him negatively have been given a fair bit of ammunition in the last year. 

Spurs have failed to sign a single player in the last two transfer windows, while fans grew increasingly tired of Levy’s apologies as the delays to the new stadium kept coming. 

Yet the stunning 62,062-seater arena, which will finally host its first Premier League match on Wednesday night, has undoubtedly been worth the wait. The extended stay at Wembley will soon be a distant memory and the future will look bright indeed under the lights against Crystal Palace

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If this moment has felt like a long time coming for Spurs’ eager supporters, it has been an even longer journey for Levy – one that started 18 years ago, in 2001. 

“It’s amazing, an exciting moment for our fans and players, but it’s a special moment for Daniel Levy,” said Mauricio Pochettino. “He started with this idea and had the vision to deliver it.” 

Given that Levy has been building a long-lasting legacy, he has certainly taken a hands-on role, and he admits he has been demanding. 

“As a human being I’m a perfectionist, which is a problem perhaps for some of the people who have to work for me because perfection is very hard to come by,” said the chairman during a presentation to the media on Tuesday. 

“I’ve always been a person who wants to strive and do better, so whatever we do is never good enough. 

Tottenham Stadium

“We had cameras on our website so we were able on the iPad to zoom in and take a snap and say, ‘Why isn’t that working? Why isn’t that done?’. We trained all the staff so every time we saw something we weren’t happy with, there would be an email going round. 

“We had serious sleepless nights about the roof. We wanted glass and everyone said it wasn’t possible. But we found a solution, so this roof will look brand new in five years’ time. If you go to any other stadium in five years that definitely wouldn’t be the case. 

“I’m going to take a week off once this is open and then I’m back for the next journey.” 

Christopher Lee of stadium designers Populous said: “I have said it numerous times - Daniel is one of the most demanding clients I’ve ever had. 

“We did a lot of travelling early on and I quickly stopped travelling with him because he never sleeps. We would arrive somewhere at two in the morning and we would talk for a few hours and then he would say, ‘We have a meeting in three hours.’ It’s been a great experience, trying to strive for perfection. 

“To create the greatest stadium in the UK I think was the original brief. That slightly changed during the process to making the greatest stadium in Europe. I think really what he (Levy) has done is create the greatest stadium in the world. I can say that with a level of authority.” 

It is certainly state-of-the-art, with its retractable pitch. Lee has likened the arena to Tracy Island from Thunderbirds, with everything moving and folding away. 

It boasts a world-first integrated pitch grow lighting system. It will have the largest LED screens in any stadium in Western Europe, the longest bar in Europe at 65m and, Levy has been told, the fastest internet of any ground in the world. 

Tottenham retractable pitch

Acousticians have been consulted to ensure that songs and chants reverberate around the stands and that none of the atmosphere of White Hart Lane is lost, despite the size of the bowl. 

At the same time, a sense of history has been retained even if the name of the old ground has not. 

The floors of the concourses are paved with the rubble of White Hart Lane. The iconic golden cockerel watches over the pitch. The centre spot of the Lane has been marked in the West Stand, and the front cover of matchday programmes dating back years have been enlarged and placed on the walls of the East Stand. 

“In every single detail you can see the passion and the love everyone put inside to make it one of the best stadiums in the world,” said Pochettino. 

Tottenham do not just want their new stadium to provide a better experience for their fans though. They are also looking outward into the community, and hope their investment will spark a wave of regeneration. 

Tuesday’s presentation started with the striking image of a car on fire during the 2011 riots that started in Tottenham – a stark reminder of the area’s recent past. 

“It’s about putting this great constituency, a constituency that has struggled with hard times, on the map,” said David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham. 

“This is probably the most exciting build of my 18 years as a Member of Parliament. We’ve already got many of the young people employed on the site and in the businesses around, but there is so much more to come.” 

The intention is that Tottenham’s ground will be in constant use. The media area will become a bar in the evenings, the press auditorium a private cinema. 

“I want to feel that we as a club really do leave something special for the local community,” said Levy. “We really want to regenerate this area and I’m determined to see it through.” 

It remains to be seen how local pubs and eateries will cope, given Spurs’ stadium has over 60 food and drink outlets including its own micro-brewery - fans are being encouraged to arrive early and stay late. But Levy believes such a level of hospitality represents the future. 

Tottenham stadium bar

“I’m a great believer in competition and I have no doubt that other clubs are looking at what we’ve done and how can they improve the experience for their own fans,” he said. “So yes, it will drive up the standard.” 

The question now is whether the delivery of Spurs’ £1billion project will be a catalyst for improved results on the pitch and, eventually, that elusive silverware. 

After Saturday’s legends match, Darren Anderton said: “It should help bring in the best players in the world. It should help keep the best players that we have. It should help keep the manager.” 

Pochettino is not sold on the idea that the magnificence of the stadium itself will influence players’ decisions and points out that the supposed lure of Champions League football had little effect last summer. 

But he believes the money generated on matchdays, and its constant use as a community facility and conference centre, will have a big impact and that it is time to think big. 

“I am very romantic, but football is not about being romantic,” he said. “It’s not about saying to players, ‘Look at the new stadium, the Lodge, then come to play for free. 

“Of course, I think it will change the capacity for us to operate. If you want to compare to Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus or Real Madrid, you can’t think you are Tottenham with 36,000 [any more]. We need to think like a big club and that is the most important step that we need to make.” 

For Levy, the next part of his vision is clear. 

“I think we’ve created the infrastructure here to become one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he said. “As far as revenue standards, we will be in the top 10 clubs in the world. 

“When I took over the club, Tottenham was not a club that was a regular European challenger. Clearly we are now, and my dream is obviously to win. We want to win, and winning is both on the pitch and off the pitch, so we’re going to keep going until we get both right.”