Kingsmeadow (known as The Cherry Red Records Stadium for sponsorship purposes)<ref name="schange">Template:Cite web</ref> is an association football stadium in the area of Norbiton, Kingston upon Thames, London, which is used for the home matches of both AFC Wimbledon and Kingstonian. It has a capacity of 4,850 with 2,265 seats.<ref name="footballgroundguide.com">Template:Cite web</ref>
The freehold of the site is owned by Kingston Council. The leasehold, which safeguards the site for the borough's football team, was originally held by Kingstonian FC but is currently owned by AFC Wimbledon, having been purchased from the previous owners in March 2003. A condition of the lease is purportedly a renewable 25-year sub-lease to Kingstonian, who are also guaranteed the first pre-season friendly of AFC Wimbledon's first team squad as a home fixture for Kingstonian. The idea is the takings from that first fixture should cover Kingstonian's rent, which is reportedly fixed for the term of the sub-lease.
Current stands and capacity
Kingsmeadow comprises the following stands:
- The Nongshim Stand - a newly built, covered behind-the-goal all-seater stand with 1,000 seats.<ref name="footballgroundguide.com"></ref> It is sponsored by Nong Shim Ltd., South Korea's largest processed food manufacturer, whose UK head office is based locally in New Malden. The rebuilding of the stand increased the stadium capacity to approximately 4,850.
- The Paul Strank Stand - the all-seater main stand with 1,265 seats,<ref name="footballgroundguide.com"></ref> which also includes the stadium's changing rooms, offices, three bars and other facilities. The main stand was extended during the 2008–09 season, adding additional seats and also extending the roof to provide better protection from rain. It was also renamed the Paul Strank Stand at this time. Paul Strank is a supporter and major benefactor of AFC Wimbledon, hence it was named in his honour.
- The Your Golf Travel Stand - (formerly "The East Stand") is a partially covered shallow terrace along the length of the pitch, opposite the main Paul Strank Stand. AFC Wimbledon are about to commence a feasibility study regarding the best way to upgrade this area of the ground, which must meet football league standards by May 2014. Due to AFC Wimbledon's desire to move to a stadium in Wimbledon in the medium to long term, the solution is most likely to be whatever is most cost effective.
- The EcoHouse End (formerly "The Athletics End" & "The Tempest End") - a covered behind-the-goal deep terrace. Its original name came from the Kingston Athletics Centre which sits directly behind the stand. The terrace was covered during the 2005–06 season and renamed the "Tempest End" in recognition of the sponsorship of Tempest Sports, Wimbledon's exclusive kit manufacturer since the club's inception, who had partially paid for the development. For the 2013–14 season the stand was renamed the "EcoHouse End" in a new sponsorship deal with EcoHouse Group, which has its main European office in nearby Richmond.
As of October 2012, the stadium has a capacity of 4,850. It originally was designated to have a 6,299 capacity before modern safety requirements and ground improvements (such as re-profiling the Athletics End terrace and replacing the original terraced paddock in front of the main stand with seats) required the capacity to be reduced. Kingstonian's highest attendance at Kingsmeadow was 4,582 v Chelsea (friendly) on 22 July 1995. AFC Wimbledon's highest attendance at Kingsmeadow was 4,749 v Exeter City on 13 April 2013. This is the record attendance at Kingsmeadow.
The stadium has been the home of Kingstonian since 1989, when they built the entire complex on the site following the sale of their traditional Richmond Road ground. Kingstonian opened the ground with a friendly against Queens Park Rangers. Following relegation from the Conference, Kingstonian went into financial administration and both the club and ground were purchased by Rajesh Khosla and his son Anup. A large part of Kingstonian's support were alienated as they believed the Khoslas were business rather than football oriented.
After one season as tenants of the Khoslas, AFC Wimbledon undertook to buy the leasehold to the ground. The club's owners, The Dons Trust, launched a share issue to finance the purchase, which was closed the following summer. The club subsequently arranged for a commercial loan to clear the remaining debt to the Khoslas. Upon taking over the ground, its name was changed to The Fans' Stadium which remains the nickname of the ground today.
AFC Wimbledon kept Kingstonian on as tenants and charged them a lower rent than they themselves had been charged by the Khoslas, with both gate receipts and bar takings at Kingstonian games being retained solely by Kingstonian (which continued to be Khosla-owned until 2005). An annual friendly between the two clubs is also intended to defray the cost of the rent.
AFC Wimbledon have played at the stadium since they were founded in 2002, after the original Wimbledon club was given permission to relocate some 56 miles from South London to the town of Milton Keynes. They were in the Combined Counties League at this time, but in 2011 reached Football League Two.
- Kingstonian FC Official website
- AFC Wimbledon Official website
- Kingsmeadow at Football Ground Guide
- Kingsmeadow at PitchMap.co.uk