It's going to be a fascinating but stressful year at Royal Antwerp. The Great Old are returning to European football and cannot play at home due to insufficient standard. In order to change this, they're about to launch their second grandstand reconstruction.
When they began rebuilding Bosuil Stadion, the club was barely getting back on its feet again. Now they're less than 2 days from their return to European football. But the game against Viktoria Plzen cannot be played at home, they have to use the vast Koning Boudewijn Stadion in Brussels.
In order not to face such travel next year, they're about to break ground for the second time in recent years. You may recall the team delivered their new main grandstand in 2018. Now the south end is about to get razed to the ground. Nicknamed 'the aquarium', the old hospitality stand received green light for demolition in early July and should be torn down within days. This means an extension of the main stand is coming.
Apart from raising capacity, the new grandstand will offer impressive floor space, spread across 6 floors. It will house both the club offices, new hospitality areas and youth players of Royal Antwerp's academy, who use surrounding fields everyday.
Carried out by Ghelamco, the project is expected to deliver its outcome really soon, before the end of July next year.
For now the team has a different issue in mind, however. With capacity cut from over 16,000 to over 13,000, it can barely hold the 13,000 season ticket holders. This means there will be almost no regular match tickets on sale for an entire season. In order to mitigate the short supply of tickets, RAFC have launched a 'free your seat' campaign, which asks fans to open their seats up for any takers if they cannot attend themselves.
In the long run it should all be worth the wait, though. Depending on configuration, the stadium could reach 23,000-27,000, of course once all four grandstands are replaced. For now all eyes are on making it two out of four by mid-2020.