Paris Saint-Germain’s hopes of expanding the Parc des Princes will have to wait until after the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in the French capital, according to an official serving within Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s administration.
PSG’s high-profile capture of Lionel Messi this week has reignited debate over the ability of the Parc des Princes to meet the Ligue 1 club’s long-term ambitions. The stadium currently has a capacity of 48,000 and speaking at Messi’s unveiling on Wednesday, PSG president and chief executive, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, admitted the Parc des Princes is “very small” for the PSG of today.
He continued: “I love the Parc des Princes but we need to expand it, it’s very important for our future. Every big club has today, at least 80,000 seats for its supporters.”
Speaking to France Bleu yesterday (Thursday), Hidalgo’s sports assistant, Pierre Rabadan said the city hall and PSG have been talking for several months. However, he warned: “These are subjects that go beyond the simple will of each other.
“There are technical subjects and organisational arrangements for the club that are very important. There are architects who work on the possibilities that exist. To increase the capacity of the Parc des Princes, it’s complicated. It’s a fairly unique structure with a very particular architecture.
“A very specific concrete reinforcement with arches connected to each other, located up to the side of the ring road.”
The potential of creating space for expansion by excavating under the stadium has been dismissed by Rabadan. He said: “We are not going to break into the ground, because below there are things. It is up to PSG to express themselves, when they are ready and when we have the right model.
“Of course, the City is fully aware that the stadium is an essential asset in the development of the club and that it needs additional space to accommodate more people, in a suitable economic model.”
Rabadan says talks have so far centred around expansion to a capacity of 60,000. He continued: “The president (Al-Khelaifi) announced an even higher ambition. Technically, today I cannot tell you if we are able to fit 80,000 places.
“It seems to me that this was not the case in the studies that I have seen. Maybe he had some new ideas! You know, they don’t always tell us everything. Until a few days ago we didn’t know that Messi was coming.”
In December, the organising committee for the 2024 Olympics confirmed that Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice and Saint-Etienne would join the capital as host cities for the men’s and women’s football tournaments at the Games.
Toulouse had also applied to be one of the host cities but missed out as organisers looked to scale back the venue plan as part of cost-cutting measures. The Stadium de Toulouse was used as a host venue for France’s staging of the 2016 European Championships and will also host matches during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The Stade Pierre-Mauroy, home of Ligue 1 club Lille, will also be used as an Olympic host venue but will stage handball matches and not football. The Parc des Princes had already been pencilled in to stage the finals of the men’s and women’s football tournaments.
It was confirmed that the Parc des Princes would be joined by Bordeaux’s Matmut Atlantique, Lyon’s Groupama Stadium, Marseille’s Orange Velodrome, Nantes’ Stade de la Beaujoire, Nice’s Allianz Riviera and Saint-Etienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Organisers had initially intended on using nine venues for football matches at the Olympics before the plans were scaled back.
With regards the Olympics and the Parc des Princes’ possible expansion, Rabadan added: “You can imagine that there are a number of studies that must be done, that continue to be done, and a number of authorisations to be had. It should allow for the expansion of the stadium just after the Olympic Games.”