Instead of growing ahead of the tournament, Stade Bollaert-Delelis will be downsized. This comes as authorities attempt to improve comfort for all groups of spectators. Limited budget also played a role, though.
Today the renowned stadium in Lens holds exactly 41,229 people. Sell-out crowds haven't been seen here for a long time, but this is due to RC Lens balancing between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, leaning towards the lower tier most of the time. What is certain now is that no new record will come since the 1992 Marseille turnout of over 48,000 people.
As part of the Euro 2016 redevelopment the stadium was initially expected to lose some 2,000 seats in return for upgraded infrastructure throughout all stands. Today's plan envisages smaller structural interference, yet bigger in terms of seating layout. Didier Personne, director of large scale projects in the region, explains the cause.
“[...] In this project everything is planned so that each spectator area provides better access and comfort. No matter if in the stands or in the suites. The disabled also haven't been forgotten, receiving a bigger allocation than requirements foresee”, said Personne.
Altogether, the stadium will lose some 6,000 of its capacity, gaining wider seats for everyone, bigger VIP zone (2,500 instead of 1,800), the disabled allocation mentioned above and removal of all seats with obstructed view.
Tight budget also had some relevance. First estimated at €98 million, it now stands at €70 million. Part of the savings was made thanks to RC Lens agreeing to relocate for some phases of the development, making logistics much less challenging.
Building permit has been issued on May 14, while the construction tender is hoped to be launched in mid-September. The plan also comprises upgraded roof and new external cladding for the stadium, along with expanded commercial infrastructure.