The Belgian Football Association (URBSFA/KBVB) has joined forces with sports events agency Golazo to present a plan for the redevelopment of King Baudouin Stadium that aims to honour the golden generation of footballers and athletes in the country today.
The Brussels venue acts as home to the Belgian national football team, currently No.1 in the FIFA World Rankings, and is also a prominent athletics host, staging Belgium’s annual round of the Diamond League series, the Memorial Van Damme.
The stadium first opened in 1930 and its long-term future has been the subject of much discussion in Belgium. Indeed, in January 2018 the troubled process to develop a new national football stadium in Brussels was dealt what appeared to be a critical blow after the Flemish government denied planning permission for the 60,000-seat Eurostade project. The consequences of the confusion regarding Brussels’ sports stadia ultimately led to UEFA stripping the city of its hosting rights to Euro 2020.
The URBSFA/KBVB and Golazo, organiser of the Diamond League meet, have now teamed up to present the ‘Golden Generation Arena’ project, stating that King Baudouin Stadium is not suitable for today’s needs.
The new-look stadium is set to be extensively redeveloped, reducing its capacity from 47,000 to 40,000 so that it can continue to host the Belgian national team, the Memorial Van Damme, other major football and athletics events, and concerts.
The masterplan envisions that the project will be entirely publicly funded through the Belgian government and the regions of Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels, at a cost of between €150m (£128.7m/$170.1m) and €200m.
The URBSFA/KBVB and Golazo said the project also enjoys “massive support” from fans, athletes, European football’s governing body UEFA and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). A design competition will be launched targeting proposals for the scheme from Belgian universities.
Peter Bossaert, CEO of the URBSFA/KBVB, said: “We are lucky to have a golden generation of athletes and supporters at this moment. So we have to seize this unique opportunity to build infrastructure that is commensurate with their performance.
“We want to prove that our country can still bring ambitious projects to a successful conclusion. I am convinced that by joining forces we will succeed in having the Golden Generation Arena ready in 2022.”
Bob Verbeeck, CEO of Golazo, added: “This is a first step in the right direction for us as organiser of the Memorial. It is very important that football and athletics find each other in these plans and work together for one new stadium.
“We now want to take the next necessary steps quickly and to discuss this with all parties. This is the right time, since we will also continue to play an important role in the innovative Diamond League from 2020 onwards.”
Image: Diamond League