Belgium: Aalst stadium renovation on the horizon?
source: StadiumDB.com [RS]; author: Robert Saganowski
The fourth-division side Eendracht Aalst has attracted new investors and will renovate its more than 90-year-old stadium. The club has reached an agreement with the city and, in cooperation with it, will undertake the maintenance of the well-worn facility.
Pierre Cornelisstadion was built in 1928 and is already showing signs of wear and tear. The over 6,000-seat venue is the home of the club from Flanders and there is much talk of expanding its functionality to include new activities, not just sporting ones.
The club versus the city
In a dispute between the club and the city, the terms are dictated by the latter. Aalst’s Finance and Sports Councilor, Matthias De Ridder admits that the stadium is not in good condition. The city is trying to put the blame for the poor condition of the stadium on others, and Eendracht Aalst themselves are also adding their "three cents".
For the time being, the parties have just come to an agreement on cost sharing. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing discussion about liability for damage caused to the stadium due to lack of maintenance. The city will soon consult with the club and prepare an action plan.
The supporters' voice
Supporters of the club from the north of the country are equally vocal about the renovation of the facility, which has failed to meet many requirements over the years. The very arrangement of the stands is quite extravagant.
The local fanatics stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the visitors, separated only by a buffer, while the business clients have their seats behind the goal - quite the opposite of what may be seen in most stadiums.
However, the main problem is the lack of comfort during the matchday. On the “Europa” stand, the rain makes it impossible to take seats, which simply rot away by themselves. As if that was not enough, the toilets are in a deplorable condition, and going to a match itself is more associated with survival than with a pleasant experience.
There is also a certain bone of contention in the discussion between the city and investors. De Ridder is not willing to agree to the construction of multi-purpose facilities in the area around the stadium that is currently used for recreational purposes.
The entrepreneurs would like to make sure that the facility can earn for itself and "live" also on non-match days. A comparison is made with the stadium situation in Ghent, where there is even a supermarket, but in Aalst this idea seems to be impossible to implement. The councillor fears that, if no consensus is reached, the investors might give up.
Author: Robert Saganowski