Delay confirmed for Montpellier’s stadium project

The Mayor of Montpellier, Philippe Saurel, has confirmed that the new stadium planned for the French city’s Ligue 1 football club will be delayed by at least one year.

The news follows reports last week that Montpellier HSC was set to be hit with delays over the development of a new stadium. Montpellier revealed plans for a new stadium that will be named after former president Louis Nicollin in July 2018. The Stade Louis Nicollin will be a 30,000-seat facility and was set to be developed as part of wider project in the Zac Cambaceres district of the city.

The delay for the project concerns difficulties at the stadium’s intended site. Its proximity to the nearby Montpellier Méditerranée airport would have meant the planned 3,000 housing units could not be developed as they would infringe noise exposure regulations due to a rise in air traffic.

Another site will now need to be chosen for the stadium, which Saurel said could still be located in  Zac Cambaceres. “However, for the financial balance of the ZAC, we must build these 3,000 homes,” the Mayor added, according to the AFP news agency. “They will eventually be built on the site for the stadium.”

Montpellier currently plays at the 32,900-capacity Stade de la Mosson (pictured), which opened in 1972 and was redeveloped for France’s staging of the 1998 World Cup. The Stade de la Mosson is currently serving as one of the venues for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but Saurel insisted that Montpellier needs a new stadium.

The stadium is named after the river that flows near it. Saurel added: “(The stadium) is classified as a red zone in the PPRI (Flood Risk Protection Plan), and was flooded twice recently, in the autumn of 2014 and 2015. For a stadium hosting Ligue 1 matches, this is unacceptable.”

When the plans were announced last year, it was revealed that the new stadium itself was expected to cost €150m (£133m/$169.3m). The stadium was set to open ahead of the 2022-23 season. The project was to have a total cost of €200m, with an arena also being developed on the site to host the city’s handball and basketball clubs.