You know Vincent Tan as the owner of Cardiff City, FK Sarajevo and co-owner of Los Angeles FC. But he has one more club in Belgium and that very club is about to get a new stadium. It's no wonder that Tan is speculated to be the potential private partner of the project.
The Malaysian multimillionaire Vincent Tan has been building his football empire for almost a decade now. He began in 2010 with the purchase of Cardiff City. It didn't go without massive confrontation with supporters but he seems to have grown and learnt from those mistakes. In 2013 he added FK Sarajevo to his portfolio and in 2014 he acquired shares in the fresh MLS franchise, Los Angeles FC. Finally, in 2015 he put forward a 'modest' €5 million for KV Kortrijk from the Belgian top tier.
The latter club should be getting a new stadium sooner than later. The decision was announced by chairman Joseph Allijns just after New Year. Allijns suggested that groundbreaking may come in late 2020 or early 2021 and the first game could be played by the end of 2022.
Interestingly, work behind the scenes has been ongoing for quite some time. Intercommunal association Leiedal (gathering communes by the river Leie in West Flanders) had commissioned a master plan from Brussels-based architectural office Brut back in 2017. The plan was first published back in Autumn of 2018.
The goal: erection of a 15,000-capacity football-specific stadium without the use of public money. The only investment of local authorities should be the land and traffic infrastructure, including a new and sustainable mobility strategy based on pedestrian, bicycle and public transport access.
The stadium itself would be financed by the private partner. And while Leiedal has sent out an open invitation to all potential investors, it's speculated that Vincent Tan would be a perfect match. After all, should he finance the €40-50 million venue, his newest football club would take full control of it, not have to share revenue with a third party, nor pay for lease.
Interestingly, the idea is for a strictly-football ground, with no secondary uses within its blueprint, of course aside from the basic hospitality areas for KVK needs and infrastructure necessary to receive UEFA Category 4. In order to recoup the investment, supposed private partner would be allowed to deliver a second building, which would house offices, manufacturers, showrooms and catering functions. While a hotel is allowed in the project, no regular retail is foreseen.
A third building would be a multi-level parking. This comes as an effort not to cover the perimeter with asphalt, rather save as much space as possible for citizens to use as a leisure destination.
The selected site is indeed attractive for prospective investors. The site in eastern Kortrijk lies along the E17 highway, within newly-created business park Evolis (former agricultural area), where companies are locating their offices.
In case you're wondering whether the wind turbine is part of the project – no, it's already built. You should also not pay too much attention to the rendered stadium because a final design will only be created with the private partner at a later date.