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Standard Liège gains final approval for stadium expansion

Belgian First Division A football club Standard Liège has been given the green light to commence a redevelopment of its Stade Maurice Dufrasne, following months of delays caused by challenges to the project.

Construction companies BAM Galère and CIT Blaton were selected to deliver the redevelopment in June 2020 after the City of Liège initially gave the green light to the project. Construction was due to begin in January as part of a multi-phase plan that was expected to take four years to complete. This has since been delayed, but the Walloon Government has now rubber-stamped the permit for the stadium renovation and extension.

In August, a Walloon Government official had asked Standard to revise its plans, highlighting that car parking provisions were a significant issue. The modifications made were approved a few months later by the City of Liège and have now been signed off by the Walloon Region.

Belgian newspaper Le Soir added that Brussels-based Immo Power, which owns commercial premises in the municipality of Jemeppe, in May lodged an appeal with the Walloon Government, considering the commercial development linked to the stadium project to be “inappropriate”. 

This has now been dismissed with L’Echo newspaper stating that Willy Borsus, the Walloon Minister of the Economy, who chairs the Commission on appeals from commercial establishments, ruling that the permit has been granted after “careful analysis with colleagues in charge of appeals on integrated permits, with the various opinions consulted”.

Assar Architects’ vision for the stadium will see capacity raised from the current 28,700 to 32,126 seats. The project, which is now budgeted at over €100m (£86m/$118.2m), will focus on the redevelopment of the stadium’s T2 stand.

A new esplanade will also be introduced outside the stadium, while three mixed-use buildings will be developed that are set to offer office space, a nursery, gym and café. Borsus added: “This investment is a quality project skilfully combining sporting, commercial and societal opportunities. It also integrates the challenges of mobility, as well as the different forms of displacement.”

Stade Maurice Dufrasne first opened in 1909 and preparatory work on the redevelopment is expected to commence at the end of October or beginning of November.

Images: Assar Architects