Town co-owner Bakay on future of Portman Road name
- Credit: Archant/BrettJohnson/Twitter
New Ipswich Town co-owner Berke Bakay has vowed to give Portman Road the facelift it needs - but stressed he would not entertain the idea of selling naming rights to the club's famous old home.
The Blues have embarked on mission to improve facilities at Portman Road, with CEO Mark Ashton expecting that to take between 12 and 18 months as the Blues bid to deliver a stadium supporters can be ‘proud’ of and maximise commercial opportunities.
That process has already started, with various small improvements and changes in approach - the Cobbold Stand, for example, has been updated with images celebrating the club's history, while Town have announced all bars will be cashless going forward.
But, when asked specifically if the Three Lions would look into the possibility of selling naming rights to Portman Road, as is common-place in North American sports and is becoming increasingly so in British football, big Galatasaray fan Bakay said: “I wouldn’t touch the Portman Road name!
“Obviously that means a lot to a lot of people. I’m very respectful of that. Growing up in Turkey, if somebody came and changed the name of my stadium I'm not sure what my reaction would be. So let’s not go there for now.
“But we’ll absolutely look at other commercial opportunities. Stadium naming rights isn’t the only sponsorship opportunity.
“I look forward to working with our CEO (Mark Ashton) on maximising our commercial opportunities, 100%.”
But while giving Portman Road a facelift is something the Three Lions are committed to, Bakay was quick to insist their first priority this summer is to continue building a team capable of winning promotion from the third tier.
“I think our first focus is on the on-field performance,” Bakay stressed. “The way we can impact that is the summer transfer window. We’re putting a lot of time, energy and effort into trying to solve that piece that is so important.
“At the same time, if you look at our history, what other football club do you know that builds a stadium and, three years later, builds another one?
“I’m not saying we’re building another stadium for Ipswich by any means, but it just shows you our mentality of constantly trying to improve various things, whether it’s a bigger stadium, more food options, rest rooms, team shops...
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"We’re constantly investing and trying to make things better for our fans. We have done that in the United States (with Phoenix Rising) and we’ll do that in Ipswich.
“I can’t wait to get there in person and see what it needs over different stages.
“But I want to emphasise that the first priority is on the field.”