Marseille Mayor Benoît Payan has revealed that he wants to sell the Stade Vélodrome, home of Ligue 1 football club Olympique de Marseille.
The stadium, which is also used to stage rugby union matches, is rented from the city by Olympique de Marseille. The 67,000-seat stadium underwent significant renovation ahead of the 2016 UEFA European Championships in France, with the upgrades said to have cost around €267m (£234m/$320m).
Payan feels it is no longer financially viable for the city to operate the stadium, with a buyer to be sought to ease the burden.
Speaking during a Facebook Live session, Payan said: “The stadium? Yes, I want to sell it, because it costs us too much money. I will find a way to find a buyer in the months, years to come.”
In December 2018, Olympique de Marseille signed an agreement, granting the stadium’s commercial management rights to the club. The agreement was signed with the Arema consortium, which was responsible for the redevelopment of the stadium through a public-private partnership with the city.
Arema had been responsible for the entire management of the Vélodrome, but under the new agreement the club took over commercial operations. At the time the new agreement was signed, Olympique de Marseille was paying around €5m per year to rent the venue.
The Vélodrome had been due to host the final of rugby union’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions last year. European Professional Club Rugby opted to relocate the matches after deciding that the Vélodrome could not stage the events as planned due to the “many uncertainties” created by COVID-19.
The stadium has been officially known as the Orange Vélodrome since 2016 as part of an agreement with the telecommunications company.