Club Brugge dampens reports over new stadium

Belgian Pro League football team Club Brugge has today (Friday) played down fresh reports concerning plans for a new stadium, which have emerged following the staging of the first consultation event with local residents.

Club Brugge has spoken out after the event was held on Wednesday to address the concerns of locals. Residents were given an explanation of the state of affairs and the way in which the project will be tackled, in the presence of the club chairman Bart Verhaeghe and Mayor Dirk De fauw.

The story hit the headlines in January when the City of Bruges outlined a proposal for new stadia for Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge, with the plans not being met with approval by the latter.

Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge currently share the Jan Breydel Stadion, which is owned by the City of Bruges and has a capacity of 29,000. The stadium opened in 1975 and was one of the venues for the 2000 UEFA European Championships, which Belgium co-hosted with the Netherlands.

It has been proposed that Club Brugge build a new stadium adjacent to the current Jan Breydel Stadion, while a new ground is developed for Cercle Brugge along the Blankenbergse Steenweg. The new Club Brugge stadium would have a capacity of 40,000 and is targeted for completion by the 2022-23 season.

Details from Wednesday’s meeting have since been reported by Belgian media outlets, with De Morgen newspaper stating that barring formal opposition from local residents work will commence on the new Club Brugge stadium from the spring of 2021.

The stadium will reportedly be located southwest of the current facility and closer than was originally expected. Verhaeghe is said to be taking design inspiration from the Volkswagen Arena, home of German Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg, and the Matmut Atlantique, which houses French Ligue 1 team Girondins de Bordeaux.

The Club Brugge chief is also said to have referred to the 17,500-capacity South Stand, the centrepiece of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with plans to replicate this, albeit with a 12,000-capacity.

De Morgen said the opposite end of the stadium will have a 10,000-seat ‘family stand’, with the main stand on the west side of the facility being equipped with 5,000 VIP places, 30 sky boxes and restaurants catering to 2,000 visitors. Club Brugge is also said to be seeking to develop a fan village at the new stadium.

In January, the City pointed to the fact that reducing the number of tenants on the Jan Breydel Stadion site would lessen the impact of pedestrian traffic and noise pollution on match days. De Morgen said the impact of an expanded stadium was the main concern voiced by residents at Wednesday’s meeting. It added that the club will hope to accommodate the extra fans by developing around 4,000 to 4,500 new parking spaces around the stadium.

Stating that the reports are at “least premature”, Club Brugge said in its statement today: “To date, no architect or building consortium has been chosen for the construction of the new stadium. Consequently, no choice has yet been made about what the stadium will look like, nor about the positioning of the stadium on the site.

“Club works in peace and openness with the City of Brugge and the neighbourhood for an optimal situation for all parties.”

Image: Club Brugge