Stadium preparations for UEFA EURO 2016 are progressing apace with under three years to go until football's Rendez-Vous in France.
In total, ten stadiums will host UEFA EURO 2016 matches: four new ones (Lille, Nice, Lyon and Bordeaux), five renovated grounds (Marseille, Paris, Saint-Etienne, Lens and Toulouse) and the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, which requires minor upgrading.
Of the four new facilities, two are already complete. The Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille opened its doors to the public in August 2012. This 50,100-capacity venue is the first French stadium with a retractable roof. Another technical innovation is its integrated arena, situated under the northern part of the pitch, allowing a stage to be erected for shows with capacity for between 6,500 and 35,000 spectators.
More recently Nice inaugurated its stadium, on 22 September, amid a party atmosphere. A great day was also marked by OGC Nice's 4-0 Ligue 1 win against Valenciennes FC. This venue will also house the National Museum of Sport which, with some 100,000 exhibits, will boast one of the most significant collections dedicated to sport anywhere in the world.
The construction of the future Stade de Bordeaux began at the start of the year and will finish in spring 2015. Currently, the lower tiers, onto which spectators' seats will be fixed, have been put in place. The peculiarity of this stadium will be its 'floating' roof, supported by thin posts.
Work to establish the foundations of the Grand Stade de Lyon, a 58,000-capacity project led by Olympique Lyonnais, got under way in August this year. Its inauguration is planned for the 2015/16 campaign.
Among the five stadiums being renovated, work on the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille commenced in 2009 as part of France's bid to host the tournament. The scale of the undertaking can be compared to that of building a new stadium. In the end, its capacity will be increased to 67,000, while comfort will be improved with the addition of a roof and an entirely modernised press stand. The extensive makeover is being carried out with Olympique de Marseille in situ: still playing matches there. The unveiling of the new Stade Vélodrome is scheduled for mid-2014.
The Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne, also called 'The Cauldron', is having a facelift and enlarging its capacity to 41,500. The programme aims to restructure the two ends of the ground, reconfigure the roof, close in the stadium's four corners and create new hospitality areas. The work is also being done with AS Saint-Étienne in situ. It is due for completion in mid-2014.
The Stade Municipal de Toulouse dates back to the 1938 FIFA World Cup. The upgrading work kicked off last May with Toulouse FC still playing their games there. The project, led by the city, intends to bring the stadium up to date in terms of both the venue itself and security. The work is due to be finished in autumn 2015 when the capacity will be 33,000.
The renovation of the Parc des Princes started last May. Financed by the city of Paris and Paris Saint-Germain FC, the renewal process will improve hospitality areas and services for the general public while also boosting the capacity to 45,000. The project is due for completion by mid-2015.
Work on the Stade Félix Bollaert-Delelis in Lens will last two years between the end of 2013 and late 2015. The rebuilding programme, supported by the Nord Pas-de-Calais region, will bring the venue up to scratch in terms of security and comfort as well as extending hospitality options. The capacity of the finished product will be 35,000.
The Stade de France in Saint-Denis is both the biggest UEFA EURO 2016 stadium, with a capacity of 80,000, and also the only one that could be considered for use in its current state.
All the construction and renovation projects are on schedule, allowing for optimal preparation of the competition. The investment totals nearly €1.6bn, a sum generated thanks to the strong and proactive involvement of the municipal owners and innovative means of financing. This infrastructure, renovated or new, will endure and bring a new dimension to associations and sporting clubs in the host cities and their regions.
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