Design & Development

Design concepts emerge for Morocco’s Grand Stade Hassan II

A general view of Casablanca

Featured image credit: you deal on Unsplash

The first design concepts have been revealed for Morocco’s Grand Stade de Casablanca project, with the venture to now operate under the title of Grand Stade Hassan II.

Images of the planned 115,000-seat stadium have been reported by multiple Moroccan media outlets following a meeting held earlier this week between Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, president of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, and Mohamed M’hidia, Wali of Casablanca-Settat Province.

The stadium has been renamed in honour of Hassan II, who was King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999. Lekjaa, according to Le Matin, said that “this stadium will be exceptional in all respects and will constitute the largest and best football monument in the world, contributing to the influence of the Kingdom’s civilisational heritage”.

The stadium’s design has been inspired by Morocco’s traditional social gathering known as a moussem, with the structure located under a large tented roof. In March, a consortium led by local firm Oualalou + Choi, and including Populous, emerged victorious in a design competition for the then Grand Stade de Casablanca, which is intended to be the focal point of Morocco’s co-hosting of the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

The selection, by the National Agency for Public Facilities (ANEP), drew to a close a process that had initially seen a long list of 12 proposals selected. In December, it was announced that this field had been whittled down to a shortlist of seven bidders. Contacted by today (Friday), Populous said it is currently not authorised to release any images of the project.

The Médias24 newspaper said the design vision is as follows: “The Grand Stade de Casablanca is deeply rooted in Moroccan culture, with its traditions and contemporary expressions. It is rooted in ancient and primordial figures: the mouseem, the tent and the garden, as well as in the topography and landscapes of Morocco.

“It is a generous space, open to the world and respectful of the nature it protects. The Grand Stade de Casablanca is the embodiment of the great tradition of Moroccan hospitality.”

Construction of the new stadium was expected to begin at the end of June, it was reported last month. Karim Glaibi, a member of Casablanca City Council, made the announcement, according to multiple Moroccan media outlets, stating that delivery of the stadium is due in 2028.

Morocco is planning on building the Grand Stade Hassan II in Benslimane, around 38km from Casablanca, for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, which it will co-host alongside Portugal and Spain. Three matches will also be held in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay during the tournament as part of FIFA’s plans to mark 100 years since the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay.

The conclusion of the design competition saw the Tarik Oualalou Architecte-led consortium come out on top in a ranking of five proposals. The ANEP committee recommended to project owner, the National Society for the Development and Management of Sports Facilities (Sonarges), that the Oualalou + Choi consortium be chosen for the stadium venture.

The Grand Stade Hassan II has an estimated price tag of between MAD4.5bn (£356.1m/€420.3m/$455.2m) and MAD5bn, with the land selected covering a 100-hectare site. In October, it was revealed that Morocco is planning on building the new stadium in Benslimane, with six existing venues to undergo renovation work ahead of the 2030 World Cup.

Morocco is set to become the second African country to host a World Cup, after South Africa staged the 2010 edition. It was also announced in September that Morocco will stage the Africa Cup of Nations in 2025, with substantial stadium investment planned for the two tournaments.

A partnership has been agreed between the Moroccan government and the country’s Deposit and Management Fund (CDG) to finance a programme to upgrade stadiums in Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, Agadir, Marrakech and Fez, and build the new stadium in Benslimane.

The project is part of King Mohammed VI’s vision to develop the country’s football infrastructure. The six upgraded stadiums would meet Confederation of African Football (CAF) standards by 2025 and FIFA standards by 2028.

The stadiums in question are Tangier’s Ibn Batouta Stadium, Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Ardar Stadium in Agadir, Stade de Marrakech, and the Fez Sports Complex.

A budget of MAD9.5bn has been set aside to upgrade these stadiums between 2023 and 2025. A second round of upgrades will be carried out between 2025 and 2028 to bring them up to FIFA standards. The second round of upgrades will have a budget of between MAD4.5bn and MAD6bn.

The Moroccan Sports Ministry last week launched a tender process to select a company to carry out a MAD800m rebuild of Prince Moulay El Hassan Stadium. The venue currently has a capacity of 12,000 seats but is due to be increased to 22,000 as a result of the reconstruction which will also see all seating covered to protect spectators from the elements.