Harrogate Town will develop the CNG Stadium over the summer and create an enclosed ground “more akin to professional football” according to chairman Irving Weaver.
Town have received a bumper grant from the Fooball Foundation’s Stadia Improvement Fund to develop the west end of the ground and build a covered standing terrace.
FSIF, the largest provider of grants towards projects to improve safety and comfort in lower league football, has presented the club with £117,017 which will form more than half of the £200,000 investment.
The stand will hold up to 800 supporters but Town chairman Irving Weaver said there would not be a change to the official 3,200 capacity the ground can hold.
He said: “It’s a big influence when someone gives you more than £100,000. we really couldn’t miss it.
“Anything that is coming at half price, you have to take that opportunity.”
Town received planning permission from Harrogate Borough Council for the stand planned for the Hospital End in June 2013.
However, building work was delayed as the club pursued a grant from the FA.
After receiving the grant, Town’s management board have decided to wait until after the Tour de France’s Grand Départ and the home friendly against Leeds United on July 12. The first bricks are expected to be laid the day after United’s visit and take seven weeks to complete, local firm SB Utilities winning the contract to tender for the work.
This award will enable Town to build the new covered terrace, toilet block and food outlet at the Lancaster Park Road Hospital end.
Erecting the stand will allow the club to partition the stadium for home and away fans should they achieve promotion into the Football Conference.
Town will also begin upgrades to corporate facilities, with new sheltered seating erected for junior teams on the patio outside.
Weaver said: “We have now had three years and we have tried to build everything together gradually.
“The first thing was to sort the pitch out, the next thing was to get the 1919 events facility so it can become a revenue source.
“Whilst we also have planning permission for the Wetherby Road stand, the fact we decided to enclose the ground so it’s four-sided was a major step to creating an environment more akin to professional football.
“Over a long term plan, each year we have to make improvements, or it all comes at once. We want to develop the club over a long period and to be able to segregate.
“If we went up, and every club has to have an ambition to go forward, segregation would be important when you have the likes of Torquay United. You have to expect a bigger crowd from away fans.
“Maybe we are also starting to provide facilities that people expect.”
The chairman also hinted further grant applications would be made for the Wetherby Road stand improvements.
If successful, the club will look to renovate the stand before the 2015/16 season.
Weaver added: “We are confident that we could get a grant for that, and then we really have started to improve around the ground.”
Garry Plant, Managing Director, said: “This is a huge step forward for Harrogate Town. We owe the Football Stadia Improvement Fund a warm handshake of appreciation.”
Peter McCormick, chairman of the FSIF, said: “I am delighted to be able to awardHarrogate Town AFC this grant to enable them to build a new terrace stand.”
The club is looking for a sponsor for the stand. Any company/individual interestedshould contact MD Garry Plant.