Chesterfield FC and the b2net Stadium
...catalyst for Chesterfield's revival
For years when people thought of Chesterfield FC, they thought of the ultimate spit ‘n’ sawdust football ground – rickety, wooden stands, disgusting toilets and crumbling terraces. Their move last year to the brand spanking new, all-seater b2net Stadium is not only shattering that perception but has had a galvanising effect on the club from top to bottom.
In this ever-changing world, it is imperative to move with the times – not least in football. Chesterfield’s decrepit home of 139 years, The Recreation Ground aka Saltergate, had become the major obstacle in the way of the club’s ambition. But despite Saltergate’s infirm, the club and its supporters left it behind with the heaviest of hearts.
Many fans found it difficult to envisage feeling at home in their shiny new stadium. They all knew it was essential, but folk don’t like change – especially up north. The transition to the b2net, however, has been utterly seamless.
The club is completely revitalised. In front of a crowd over 10,000, The Spireites were crowned League Two champions in May 2011 to cap a hugely successful and thrilling season. Chesterfield FC is building a relentless momentum both on and off the pitch, and can look forward to welcoming both Sheffield clubs - Wednesday and United - to the b2net next season.
Built on the site of the former Dema Glassworks in Whittington Moor, less than a couple of miles outside the town centre, the b2net is - first and foremost - a well-balanced, accommodating and aesthetically pleasing football ground.
Coming off the back of a final season at Saltergate which saw an average attendance of just 3,595, the b2net’s capacity of 10,600 – while never overly ambitious – conjured visions of swathes of empty seats. However, crowds have almost doubled, with an average turn-out of a shade under 7,000.
Frankly, the Saltergate experience was never particularly welcoming to women and children, but the b2net is a genuinely family-friendly venue. Fans are treated to an entirely different experience to that of their former home. Well-stocked bars, flat screen TVs and, yes, thoroughly decent toilets can be found along the excellent concourses, while every seat in the ground offers generous leg room and a great view of the action.
The notion of pre and post-match corporate hospitality at Saltergate extended to cans of warm bitter, curly sandwiches and Grandstand on a little telly in a poky, brown room underneath the old centre-stand.
Now, the club’s off-field ambitions match those on the pitch, and the b2net has already become one of the region’s top corporate hospitality and wedding venues. The West Stand features conferencing rooms and banqueting suites, providing Premier League class hospitality.
The East 'Community' Stand includes a multi-purpose sports and community room, sports injury clinic, a gym and healthy living resource, a wave pool for rehabilitation, classroom resource centre for local education, a soft play area for kids, meeting rooms and a cafeteria. It is a world away from Saltergate.
The b2net has proved so successful that The Football Association elected to use the stadium as the venue for a recent under 19s international between England and Germany.
The game attracted a huge crowd of over 9,000, over double what can normally be expected for a youth international fixture, and was considered a resounding success - despite Germany’s 1-0 win. Some things never change, but it would take a brave man to back against there being further international games held in Chesterfield.
While John Sheridan’s free-scoring Spireites carry all before them and embark on their League One campagin, the club’s new home finds itself at forefront of the regeneration of Chesterfield, a symbol of not only the club’s revival but the town’s too.
Ground Name: B2Net Stadium
Address: 1866 Sheffield Rd, Whittington Moor, Chesterfield, S41 8NZ
Main Tel No.: 01246 809765
Team Nickname: The Spireites or Blues
Year Ground Opened: 2010
Chesterfield FC website
May 2011 ... updated October 2012
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015