Design & Development

Commitments made to new Stade Brestois stadium amid delays, cost increases

Projet Espace Froutven, the venture to deliver a new stadium for Stade Brestois 29, has seen its timeline slip by a year amid rising costs, with both the French Ligue 1 football club and Brest Métropole officially discounting the possibility of instead redeveloping the team’s current home.

A little over a year ago, Stade Brestois 29 and Brest Métropole unveiled eye-catching plans for a new 15,000-seat stadium for the club. Designed by the architecture firm Groupe François de La Serre, the Espace Froutven project aims to deliver a stadium that has a multi-use remit, with plans for a new home having first emerged in March 2018.

In January 2020, Stade Brestois president Denis Le Saint maintained that the club was firmly committed to delivering a new stadium, with plans at the time revolving around a 13,000-seat stadium ready by the end of the 2021-22 season.

The new plans call for a 15,000-seat stadium, intended to meet the Ligue de Football Professionnel’s (LFP) requirements for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, of which 11,800 seats will be reserved for the general public and the remainder dedicated to commercial partners.

However, efforts have stalled since then leading to Le Saint last week threatening to withdraw his family’s backing of local sport, which extends to brother Gerard’s presidency of Brest Bretagne Handball, “if this project is not done”.

This has led to a meeting between the Le Saint brothers and Métropole officials, following which the local authority has declared that the stadium project now appears to be on track. The original financing plan, carried mainly by the private sector, estimated a price tag of €85m (£73.1m/$92.8m). Brest Métropole had set out that work could start in 2024, with delivery scheduled for 2026. 

Under the revised plans, work is now expected to commence in 2025, with a view to Stade Brestois being able to move into the new stadium in 2027. The project, carried mainly by the private sector (54.5%), is still awaiting contributions of funds from the public sector, to complete a budget which is now estimated at €106.5m. “For it to see the light of day, we need the participation of all the public players in the territory, up to 25%, or €27m,” said Denis Le Saint at a press conference. 

Le Saint blamed inflation, particularly for the cost of raw materials and energy, for the price increase, stating that discussions are already underway with local authorities, from Brest Métropole to the Brittany region, via the Finistère departmental council. 

Stade Francis-Le Blé first opened in 1922 and has been the home of Stade Brestois since 1950. A capacity of 15,000 has now been deemed reasonable for a new stadium, with Le Blé judged unsuitable to redevelop to a modern-day standard required at this capacity.

François Cuillandre, Mayor of Brest and Brest Métropole, said: “Can we bring the Le Blé site to this level of stadium? The answer is unfortunately negative.”

A study commissioned by the city states that if work is undertaken at Le Blé, it will be nowhere near sufficient to meet the standards of the LFP, despite a budget of €50m. The study shows that to increase the capacity of the Le Blé site to 15,000 spectators, the Arkéa and Quimper stands would have to reach heights not permitted for the middle of the city. Cuillandre added that the choice of keeping the historic stadium would amount to having all the costs borne by the city’s public funds.

Commenting on last week’s threats, Le Saint said: “It was not a desire to pressure, but we are used to action and the time of the community is not that of the club. We really wanted to mobilise everyone so that we set the schedule. 

“When we defined the project, when we thought about what we put into it, when we set the project and when we are indirectly pressed by the DNCG (French football’s financial watchdog), we obviously want to go quickly.”

He added: “The administrative procedure is launched, the vote in the metropolis will take place. We have already reviewed and corrected this project, we have taken into account the environmental side, we have really tried to do everything, to listen to everyone, taking an extra year so as not to waste any more time now. In the meantime, Le Blé still has a few good years ahead of it.”