FC Metz venue revamp work gets a jumpstart


Metz Stadium - October 2020 update Image: FC Metz

The French association football club FC Metz is one of just two major clubs in France to own their home grounds. The club’s stadium redecoration work was in the works for a long time. Work has suddenly caught pace and now, the club is gearing up to launch the new grandstand of its residence – Stade Saint-Symphorien – which will raise the capacity of the facility to roughly 30,000. The stadium reconfiguration work should last until 2023.

Football Club de Metz, commonly referred to as FC Metz or simply Metz, is a French association football club based in Metz, Lorraine (France). The club was formed in 1932 and plays in Ligue 1, the first level in the French football league system. Metz plays its home matches at the Stade Saint-Symphorien located within the City.

Since 2018, FC Metz has been the sole owner of Stade Saint-Symphorien. The club has thus joined Olympique Lyonnais in becoming one of just two major sides in French football to own their grounds.

Usually, venues are owned by the municipality, often managed by private third parties, as part of now widely scrutinized public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Olympique Lyonnais is a French professional football club based in Lyon in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. It plays in France’s highest football division, Ligue 1. The club was established in 1950.

Metz Stadium - October 2020 updateImage: FC Metz

Metz taking the reins of the stadium in its hands was a way of developing the club and boosting its profile, as well as regular revenue. In May 2019, construction of the new main stand along the South side began. As of today, the stand is almost complete structurally and workers are working on the two Southern corners, which are also to be filled.

Plans are in the offing to upgrade the entire venue, though the three existing stands will not be significantly altered speaking strictly in structural terms. They will, however, be covered by new outer cladding, Metz revealed recently.

Although the main stand is almost complete, its furnishing and installation phase will take some time and the will be launched gradually. From January 2021, the stand will lodge the expo-conference center, able to stage events between 20 and 1,000 people across 5,000 m2.

In February 2021, the new business circle, which will famously feature its own bar and restaurant, will be launched. It will become the most exclusive element of the stadium, key element of its hospitality offer. Offices will be set up in summer next year, while in September of 2021 further 1,500 m2 of co-working space should be launched.

The entire stadium development project will be over a little late than expected, in 2022. By then, Stade Saint-Symphorien will be able to realize all of its commercial potential, including the staging of large concerts.

For less than two weeks now the stadium has been under the management of FC Metz Stadium, a new subsidiary of the club, which solely manages the sports and commercial facilities (including the training center and tennis club, also owned by FC Metz). One of the first new amenities opened under the new subsidiary is an Italian eatery in the North stand, which will facilitate fans to enjoy gourmet food in the venue every day.

Metz Stadium - October 2020 updateImage: FC Metz

The entire structure’s redevelopment was initially expected to consume €60 million, the tab being picked up by private parties. However, today the official estimate stands closer to €70 million.

Stade Saint-Symphorien

For many years in the works, revamping of Stade Saint-Symphorien is finally coming to fruition. Though smaller in scale than the concept of 2011, this vision retains key features of that scheme: New South stand, enclosing the stadium and major upgrade in all respects.

The new South stand will be double-tiered. In the second stage, it will be joined by two corner sections, altogether packing in 7,955 people, including 136 wheelchair spaces. Interestingly, the premium seating capacity would vary depending on demand, between 2,239 and 4,500 seats.

The grandstand will come with 15,400 m2 of floor space, of which over 10,000 will be used to create commercial activity not only on game days but every day. 8,000 m2 would serve as hospitality area, convention and banqueting infrastructure, including the main ballroom for 250 people. Further 2,000 m2 would serve as coworking space, while just 1,000 m2 is reserved for FC Metz facilities.

Divided into levels, the space would be organized as follows: Ground floor for sporting and media facilities, Level 1 for corporate hospitality and events, Level 2 for the business club and presidential box, Level 3 for hospitality spaces and corporate events, with closed and heated public spaces, Level 4 for coworking, Level 5 for general public, control center and press boxes.

With the new grandstand delivered, the stadium would no longer boast its asymmetric layout, earning a uniform silhouette. It would then receive a translucent wrap, which would only not cover the East end’s facade (due to spatial constraints).

The revamp will also see modifications across the existing three stands, most visible one being the replacement of all seats. The floodlighting, sound and access control systems would also be entirely replaced. Finally, a new public plaza would be created in the South, streamlining crowd flow on event days.

Metz Stadium - October 2020 updateImage: FC Metz

The construction began on May 27, 2019, when the old South side’s demolition was launched. It’s expected that the new South stand would be operational in August 2020. Then both corners would be worked on, taking one more year. Finally, works on new facade and systems would follow suit.

Though the investment is receiving public support, the major expenditure will have to be picked up by FC Metz. The club would put forward €45.5 million out of the total of €60 million. Remainder would come from the City of Metz (€5m), Department of Moselle (€5m) and region of Grand Est (€4.5m). The partnership was possible after FC Metz received long-term lease of the venue in 2019, becoming its sole manager for 50 years.

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