Club Brugge Stadion hit residents’ roadblock


Belgium Club Brugge stadium update Sept 2020 Image: Club Brugge

The Belgian professional football club – Club Brugge’s long-awaited new stadium projectClub Brugge Stadion – has hit the community speedbreaker i.e., where the stadium will sit, the local residents who reside in and around the planned stadium site are sulking over the development citing traffic issues.

Club Brugge is based in Bruges in Belgium. It was founded in 1891 and its home ground is the Jan Breydel Stadium, which has a capacity of 29,062. Jan Breydel Stadium is a multiuse stadium in Sint-Andries, Bruges, Belgium. The City-owned stadium is the home stadium of two top-flight association football clubs, Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge. It is used mainly for football matches and was built in 1975.

Within just two days, the residents collected nearly €5,000 as legal fees. Lawyers will be hired to stop the development of a new 40,000-capacity stadium by Club Brugge.

In August, Club Brugge presented the official design for its new arena. Instead of building up North, the club has chosen its current Olympia complex to develop a new facility, beside the existing Jan Breydel Stadion (which would be torn once the new venue construction is through).

In Belgium, it is not easy for a major stadium project like the one planned by Club Brugge to get the green light – as a lot of red tape is involved before construction work can actually start! Though Club Brugge has been working on the project for several months now, local residents have already started opposing it tooth and nail.

The local residents have reportedly found a group called Leefbaar Sint-Andries (Liveable Sint-Andries). They are hell-bent on stopping the venue project before it gets the planning nod. The residents’ contend that the arena will cause serious issues for everyone who will be residing in its vicinity, primarily pointing out traffic and parking issues.

While the group has literally no supporters on Facebook (with just two persons following its official profile), it has already collected nearly €5,000 in the form of crowdfunding from 84 donors. The goal is to raise €25,000 and hire lawyers who will use necessary legal recourses to counter the stadium project.

It is a different matter that Club Brugge consulted its neighbors and has made a long list of concessions with regard to the planned facility, providing a detailed mobility study, limiting the number of events to only football games, even cutting out some functions from the stadium project which would hardly qualify as nuisance (like a microbrewery). The residents argue that their privacy will be hit despite Club Brugge’s concessions.

To counter the residents’ group Leefbaar Sint-Andries, supporters of FC Brugge have also formed an umbrella group going by the name ‘Taskforce 5 na 12′ (5 to 12, meaning last minute) to drum up support for the club. The group already boasts 5,300 followers on Facebook so far.

Club Brugge Stadion details

The idea of a new stadium for Club Brugge within the Olympia site (where the present Jan Breydel Stadion stands) has been resurfacing for years but it never came as close to fruition as in 2020. Despite the coronavirus menace, Club Brugge managed to select the preferred design and contractors, measuring up to its infrastructural and economic expectations.

Created by the renowned Parisian office SCAU, the vision is particularly compact. Even though the capacity of the new stadium would be 10,000 more than the one it will be replacing – Jan Breydel Stadion capacity is roughly 30,000), the difference in size would be quite modest, just a few meters taller and wider. Overall, the stadium’s length should stay within 220 meters, width in 167 m, while peak height was announced at 32 m, just four more than the old ground.

The stadium will attribute for modest size to allay residents’ fear – some of whom are wary that the new arena would overshadow their houses. Changes in landscaping are also to put at rest neighbors’ fear. Eleven training fields at Olympia would be transitioned into a park with tree boulevard. Combined with textile facade, the trees would help disperse match day noise.

On game days, major part of the park would be converted into green and shaded parking. In total 4,000 parking spaces are to be available within or around the venue, with another 4,000 spaces for bikes and room for 125 buses.

In order to limit traffic impact on the local community, Club Brugge is promising several means for ‘peak shaving’. These include encouraging earlier arrival and phased egress from the stadium, promoting carpooling (through special app informing fans when someone nearby has a ticket for the same game) and maximizing public transport use.

The seating layout includes a massive single-tiered North end for most vocal supporters, able to hold upwards of 12,000 people. The West and (partly) East stands would lodge premium seating customers, including 40 skyboxes, two large business clubs and several eateries. Overall, the percentage of business seats at the stadium is expected to be high, standing at 5,000 out of the total 40,000 capacity. Two concourses for fans have been planned, each stand will offer its own lift, ensuring space for at least 200 wheelchair users as well.

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