New stadiums: Welcome to Oyem and Port-Gentil

source: StadiumDB.com

New stadiums: Welcome to Oyem and Port-Gentil We haven't been to the 2017 Afcon, but thankfully these two missing venues are now part of StadiumDB. And rightly so, you have after all nominated new stadiums in Oyem and Port-Gentil for the title od Stadium of the Year!

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Stade de Port-Gentil, Port-Gentil (20,200)

Gabon 2017

Just like the city of Port-Gentil itself, the latest stadium in its southern outskirts is Gabon's westernmost professional stadium. It was built as part of a much larger precinct, with training athletics stadium, tennis courts and open-air fields for other disciplines. Interestingly, its Gabon's largest football-specific stadium, or rectangular, as some call it.

It became famous at the very moment of groundbreaking, because not only the president of Gabon came to commemorate the ceremony. He was joined by Leo Messi, also laying a brick onto the ground floor wall of the stadium. By construction end, it was able to host over 20,000 people, though a small number in the front rows are not actually protected by the roof above.

Gabon 2017

Structurally it's a simple building, which allowed the contractors to erect it in just over 1.5 years. Handover and inauguration proved very hasty, though, because opening took place just 10 days before the Cup of Nations, for which the stadium was built. And even then it was estimated to be 99% ready rather than 100% and during the tournament fans were entering the stadium through unpaved routes.

That said, this stadium represents a rare level for any African football venue. It boasts 22 private boxes in the west stand. It also has a hotel above the north stand with 26 rooms overlooking the field. Designed and built by renowned Chinese corporation CSCEC, it's part of long-term partnership between Gabon and China. Or 'stadium diplomacy', as the Chinese practice is known.

Its modest concrete carcass is covered with interesting mixture of colours. Primary roof structure is made with green steel, while golden sheets are put on top of the roof. Similarily, the facade is covered with interesting pattern of horizontal bars in gold. The two colours are both natural and associated with Gabon's national colours, which are literally exposed in the seating layout.

 

Stade d'Oyem, Ewormekok/Oyem (20,031)

Gabon 2017

It's by far the northernmost professional stadium in Gabon. While widely understood to be built in Oyem, it's in fact located in a remote village of Ewormekok, north of the city, along the N2 road. Beyond reach on foot, the stadium has no long-term tenant and was built specifically for the 2017 Cup of Nations.

Its construction was possible thanks to cooperation with the Chinese government, who supplied design and contractors, while ensuring that vast majority of workers on site are Gabonese (over 90%, though almost exclusively lowest-paid jobs).

Official groundbreaking took place in September, 2015 with president Ali Bongo Ondimba in attendance. Delivery date was initially expected to be November, 2016, but the stadium was only operation in late December, just 2 weeks before the Cup of Nations. Even during the tournament its perimeter wasn't done.

Gabon 2017

The stadium is oval but doesn't have room for a running track. Corners of the field are less than 10 meters away from the field while central parts of both the ends and side stands are over 20 meters away. The seating bowl provides 14 rows of seating on each end, while up to 40 rows along the sides. However, due to the roof structure, some of the uppermost rows have restricted sightlines.

The roof itself was raised compared to the initial design in order to incorporate floodlights rather than placing them on four masts. Its peak is at 30 meters, which – due to the stadium's location – makes the stadium the tallest structure in miles.

Spectators enter the stadium through four major ramps around the stadium. These lead to the main promenade with toilets and catering facilities, however the promenade drops by one floor behind each goal rather than remaining level.

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