Good local stadium. Could use some better signage on the outside and a better system for refreshments on the inside. An express lane for the most popular items would be a start. We arrived early as missed the kick off due to the outrageous lines and processes.
Wimbledon F.C. played its matches at the original Plough Lane stadium, approximately 200 yards (183 metres) from the current site, from 1912 until 1991 when it began a ground-share with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with the intention of moving to a new all-seater stadium elsewhere at a later date due to the original Plough Lane stadium being considered unsuitable for conversion into a modern all-seater stadium. Numerous locations within and beyond the borders of Merton were considered for a possible new stadium, but none of these came to fruition, and in 2003 the original Wimbledon club relocated 70 miles north to Milton Keynes, being rebranded as Milton Keynes Dons the following year.
Since its inception, AFC Wimbledon stated that one of its primary aims was to return to Merton, with a new stadium close to what it regards as its "spiritual home" of the original Plough Lane. This aim formed the basis of a project to create a new purpose-built stadium on the site of the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, located approximately 200 yards from the original Plough Lane football stadium, where the original Wimbledon side played for 80 years.
Plans to develop the greyhound stadium site as either a multi-purpose stadium or as a football stadium were publicised frequently by the club and the media prior to 2013. In 2013 AFC Wimbledon announced that discussions were underway with Merton Council over a joint bid for the greyhound stadium and the surrounding land, in cooperation with developer Galliard Homes, to build a new football stadium, 600 residential properties and a range of community facilities. Development Construction proceeded with the permanent west stand initially, with main entry from the south off Plough Lane. This is a four-story structure with general admission access from the first floor, and hospitality above. This structure seats about 4,500 spectators; semi-permanent stands on the other three sides brings initial capacity to 9,000. Among the semi-permanent seating, the most vocal home fans will be in the south, which will include a safe standing area; a family area along the east; and away fans will be in the north stand, which is isolated with its own entry. The plans for the football stadium were approved unanimously by Merton Council on 10 December 2015. Clearance of the site in preparation for the new football stadium and housing was begun on 16 March 2018. The stadium's opening was initially planned for summer 2019, but the current target is the start of the 2020-21 season. The land's freehold was transferred to an AFC Wimbledon subsidiary on 24 December 2018, among other transactions that also formally transferred ownership of Kingsmeadow to Chelsea. Finances The club thus purchased and cleared the site of the former Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium in anticipation of construction. In 2019 it was announced that a minimum of £2 million in crowdfunding would be needed to construct a scaled-down version of the original design with a single permanent stand and an initial capacity of 9,000; as of August 2019, the £2 million mark had been raised through Seedrs. In November 2019 it emerged that financing of a final £11m needed to complete the ground as envisioned was not forthcoming; the club's fan ownership initially considered scaling down the project, or accepting outside investment into the club by relinquishing ownership to meet the shortfall. However, alternate financing was quickly raised by club supporters by way of a bond issue which raised over £5 million. In May 2020, the final remaining financing needed to sign all construction contracts was confirmed following key investment from local businessman Nick Robertson. Opening AFC Wimbledon played their first match at the ground on 3 November 2020 against Doncaster Rovers, although the formal handover by the construction company was not expected until mid December. The first match ended in a 2-2 draw. The first ever goal at the new stadium was scored by Wimbledon's Joe Pigott in the 18th minute of that match. In December 2020, the Dons Trust revealed they were discussing a potential groundshare agreement with Rugby League side London Broncos.