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Around the Grounds: Northampton Saints
A look around Franklin's Gardens
Posted Aug 02, 2011 by Chris White
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Formerly known as Melbourne Gardens, Northampton Saints moved into their ground, now known as Franklin’s Gardens, in time for the 1888 season. The ground was built by John Collier, and after his death in 1886, they were bought by a successful local hotelier, John Franklin, who renamed the ground just a year later.
‘The Gardens’ were sold in 1888 to the Northampton Brewery Company for £17,000, and they started making significant improvements to the ground, including a running and cycling track, making the ground able to host cricket matches in the summer and a zoological garden.
The club committee bought the ground outright in the 1976/77 season for £30,000 and continued to develop not only the ground, but the club itself. During the 1990s, a number of temporary stands were installed to get the attendance figures over the 10,000 mark, and it was completely rebuilt in 2001.
The new-look Franklin’s Gardens, as we know it today, was opened on 8th September 2001, and cost just over £6million. The Tetley’s and South Stands, which hold 6,000 and 3,500 respectively, were opened in time for the start of that season, with the remainder of the ground opened in the summer of 2002 with the completion of the Church’s Stand. The South Stand was developed even further in 2005 when it was extended to join up with the other stands, being named after the kit supplier from the 2010/11 season, Burrda.
The current capacity is 13,591 and includes a number of bars and hospitality areas, 48 executive boxes, which can cater for any occasion, including match day packages. There are 1,500 car parking spaces on the site and three training pitches, making Franklin’s Gardens one of the best rugby stadiums, not just in the Aviva Premiership, but also in Europe.
The club are planning further developments to the ground, with a proposed development at the Sturridge End that would complete the ‘bowl’ shaped stadium and raise the capacity to 17,000.