The leader of Belgian Pro League has been fighting for a new stadium for over a decade now. Finally, there's a new concept on the table and the city of Brugge is already on board. Delivery planned for 2024.
Club Brugge may have not won the most recent domestic championship, but the club has landed on top or in second place for the last 5 years. Aspirations remain high: to dominate the Belgian Pro League like Anderlecht had in the past, becoming a regular Champions League contender.
The means to reach such ambitious goal is a new football stadium that would replace the 44-year-old Jan Breydel Stadion. The idea of building a 40,000-seater was born – and supported by market research – back in 2007 but to this day we haven't even seen a final rendering, let alone any construction work.
Partly to blame is the famous Belgian bureaucracy but there were also serious issues with land ownership. Over the last decade at least three locations were under thorough evaluation. The latest one, in the north of Brugge, fell through partly because of league competitors, whose investors owned portions of the land.
Time for a new vision
On Thursday evening Club Brugge reached an agreement with the city of Brugge and on Friday they hosted a joint press conference to announce the new plan. It's still all about a 40,000-seater but this time it would be built in Olimpia, just beside current Jan Breydel Stadion.
Among advantages of the scheme is complete ownership of the site by the city of Brugge. It's also a site where a stadium could, at least in theory, be fitted in a natural way, as continuation of sports and leisure use of the area. Also, matchdays could still be hosted just next doors and when the new arena is ready, Jan Breydel Stadion would be torn down to make way for more parking and anciliary facilities.
Because the plan is at a very early stage, there's still a lot to work on. A detailed concept and full design documentation have to receive approvals on various levels, starting with environmental impact assessment. Thus the delivery date for the new stadium has been set for 2024, a realistic goal.
What happens to Cercle Brugge?
Demolition of Jan Breydel Stadion poses the question of Cercle Brugge's future. The smaller football club however already has its own vision for a small stadium. Both Cerlce and Club's new stadium are part of the city's development strategy for 2019-2025 and are treated as priority projects. Cercle would likely move to a purpose-built 12,000-15,000 stadium in the north of Brugge. If so, we're in for some very interesting times in the Belgian city!