Nantes stadium plans halted amid owner’s legal issues

A new stadium project for French Ligue 1 football club FC Nantes has been put on hold by local authorities amid legal issues surrounding the team’s owner, Waldemar Kita.

The local Metropolitan Council gave the plans the go-ahead back in December, with Nantes planning on building a 40,000-seat stadium next to its current home, the Stade de la Beaujoire.

The €200m (£172m/$227m) project has been dubbed ‘YelloPark’ and the stadium is set to feature a retractable roof and a giant 360-degree screen. It had been hoped that the stadium would open by 2023 in time for it to serve as one of the host venues for that year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

The sale of the land required council approval at a meeting this month but the AFP news agency reports that Nantes’ plans have now been blocked by the local authorities following the launch of a fraud probe into Kita.

In a statement reported by AFP, the local government said: “Beyond the tensions, the opposition or the question marks that this project has provoked, the announcement of a preliminary inquiry by the national finance prosecutor into Mr Waldemar Kita makes it impossible for us to transfer the public pitch for his profit.”

It added: “Without wishing to prejudice the remainder of the investigation it’s clear the project in any case cannot be rolled out in the envisaged time frame or in a serene atmosphere, whatever the eventual outcome.”

December’s announcement also saw the council approve plans for the maintenance of the current Stade de la Beaujoire, which has a capacity of 37,000.

Image: FC Nantes