Tony Bloom, the famed business magnate, successful investor and passionate philanthropist, has one more thing to add to his portfolio. We all know that he’s been the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s chairman since 2009 but if we could add another item to the list it’ll have to be “wish granter”. Or Santa Claus? You decide.
But of all things, why this accolade? It has been a long and grueling twelve years for the Albions. Goldstone Ground in Old Shoreham Road used to be the club’s base for almost a century. From 1902 to 1997, it had admitted 22.9 million fans to 2,174 games. But in April 26, 1997, the last match was held. Brighton and Hove Albion F. C. may have beaten Doncaster Rovers but it was bittersweet. They had to officially say goodbye to their home.
Then chairman Bill Archer, his chief executive David Bellotti together with the support of the board of directors sold the Goldstone Ground to try and clear the club’s debts. It was a highly controversial move as it did not prove profitable at all and only left the Albions homeless since there was no planned alternative ground.
Thereafter, the team shared the Priestfield Stadium in Gillingham from 1997 to 1999. It was a goof 70 mile drive from the seaside resort town of Brighton. From 2000 to early 2011, they played at Withdean Stadium which was a general sports ground for various activities and events.
When Tony Bloom became a major investor and stockholder to the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club in 2000, he already had his eyes on a goal. As a kid who grew up loving both the sport and the club and being born to a family of avid fans and supporters, he knew that he had to contribute something monumental. As he sat as chairman in May of 2009, he sought to follow through with all his endeavors
Tony Bloom’s first project was to bring the Albions home. He helped personally fund the construction and development of then Falmer Stadium. Designed by the London-based architects KSS Design Group and constructed by the Buckingham Group, it has been renamed as the American Express Community Stadium. Known more popularly as the “Amex”, it sits a maximum capacity of 30,750 people and is valued to have cost £93 million in total. It officially opened its doors in July of 2011 and signaled the end of a homeless football team after 12 long years.