Though FC Aarau have been waiting for a new stadium since 1994 (!), it seems the long-delayed new arena will not be delivered until at least 2026, perhaps as late as 2028!
It's a story of two steps forward and two steps back, it seems. The new stadium in Aarau seems to be slipping away every time it moves a bit closer to fruition. Torfeld Süd, the 10,000-capacity private arena, has already been approved by residents in two seperate democratic votes, last time in November, by a strong majority of over 60%.
To be precise, what the voters were asked about is approval for change of local zoning in order to allow the project to go forward. At that point it was expected that the first, non-binding building permit could come this summer, then subject to possible appeals and final approval.
However, this is already not realistic. Now, according to Aargauer Zeitung, the first date for the building permit is summer of 2021. An appeal was launched against the project, as has been the case on all previous occasions. And while nearly half of all signatories have already backed out of the complaint, it could still go all the way to the administrative court and then to federal court. In total, this could take up to 2 years, in the worst case scenario.
Only when the zoning revision is approved by the government council, further objections could be expected from opponents of the stadium during objection negotiations within the city council. The hope is that this autumn the plans can finally be submitted to the Department of Construction, Transport and Environment (BVU). Whatever decision BVU gives, it can once more be challenged and proceed up to the federal court.
Providing procedures go rather well, it's expected that the building permit application will be filed within the city by developer HRS in spring of 2021. Not just subject to several reviews by the administration, the application can of course be challenged once more.
Aargauer Zeitung estimates that realistically the stadium could be ready for use in 2026, but the worst case scenario would see the fans wait until the 2028/29 to see a game at Torfeld Süd. That's a scary perspective not just because of the absurd waiting time.
By then the entire scheme might no longer be economically viable and HRS could hypothetically back off. Keep in mind, the design was first presented in 2008 and since then it had already been revised entirely, losing the planned shopping centre in favour of residential tower. Housing market will determine whether this would still be profitable in a few years.
Meanwhile, the idea of a new stadium in Aarau dates back to 1994! Perhaps the biggest hope now is that the project's opponents will run out of money, because challenging the decisions on every level generates cost.
Meeting the criteria of Swiss football is a different story. The federation has been cooperative and understanding of FC Aarau's situation so far, but under current agreement the club only has license to play if construction goes ahead in 2021. Which it will not...