|Clubs||Royal Charleroi Sporting Club|
|Category||Design awaiting implementation|
|Cost||€ 60–70 M|
|Design||Carré 7, Mariotti & Associés|
ZebrArena – design description
Why should a new stadium be built in Charleroi?
Previous venue of the Royal Charleroi Sporting Club, Stade du Pays de Charleroi, was opened in 1939. At the end of the 20th century, the stadium was expanded to accommodate 30 000 spectators for Euro 2000. After the championships, the venue did not record high attendances and its capacity was gradually reduced by removing the upper levels of all stands except the main stand, eventually reaching 14 000 seats. Stadium is located close to the city centre and is influenced by space constraints.
While in 2000 the venue was worthy of hosting European Championship matches, less than two decades later it was already considered outdated. Project for a new stadium in Charleroi had already been put forward when Belgium and Netherlands were bidding to host the 2018 World Cup, but the bid was unsuccessful and the project fell through.
What were the beginnings of a new stadium project in Charleroi?
In September 2019, the club announced its intentions to build a completely new stadium. In October of that year, a site was identified in Marchienne-au-Pont, in the western suburbs of Charleroi, on the site of a former steelworks, closed in 1970 and subsequently decommissioned. Site is located on the banks of river Sambry, right next to the city railway stop. This location was already under consideration for an earlier project created for 2018 World Cup, and in September 2020, initial brief was presented for a new facility to be built.
What will Sporting Charleroi's new stadium be like?
New stadium will have a typical football configuration, with two-tier stands surrounding the pitch on all sides. Capacity of the ground will be around 20,000 spectators (30,000 if concerts are held). What is very rare for a venue of this size, stadium is going to have a permanent roof not only over the entire auditorium, but also over the pitch. Roof sheathing over the playing field will be made of a light-transmitting material, allowing the pitch to have a natural turf. A car park for 750 vehicles will be located next to the stadium.
Facility will have VIP/hospitality areas and expanded commercial functions, which are expected to increase the club's revenue. Bold vision of building a fully-roofed facility will make it one of the most modern in the country. New stadium is expected to help realise ambitions of the activists, who intend to create in Charleroi one of the leading clubs on Belgian football map.
When will Sporting Charleroi's new stadium be built?
New facility was initially planned to be ready before 2024/25 season, with the stadium being one of the key parts of the club's development vision, referred as 'Horizon 2024'. However, subsequent delays to the project have pushed back plans for opening to 2025. Cost of building the stadium is estimated to be around €60-70 million and is expected to be covered by the club's funds. The ground, on other hand, will be available free of charge or for a symbolic amount thank to the municipality.
Visualisations of the planned facility were published in March 2022. Project, which has been given the working name 'ZebrArena' (Sporting Charleroi's nickname is 'Zebras'), was created by the architectural firm Carré 7 in collaboration with Mariotti & Associés. On 3 June 2022, a building permit application was submitted. However, work could not begin until 2023. Post-industrial sites will still need to be cleaned of toxic substances present before construction can begin.