Switzerland: St. Jakob-Park to undergo an upgrade!
source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola
FC Basel's home ground will be redeveloped after more than 20 years since it was built. The architectural concept for the modernisation was prepared by the same studio responsible for the St. Jakob-Park design, Herzog & de Meuron. Work is not expected to begin until the second half of this decade.
St. Jakob-Park was built on the site where St. Jakob Stadium stood until the end of the 21st century. The arena was commissioned in 1954 just before the World Cup hosted by Switzerland. During the tournament, Basel held four group stage matches, one quarter-final and one semi-final. The venue initially had a capacity of 51,500 spectators, which later grew to 60,000. In addition to matches for the Swiss national team, which has played at St. Jakob Stadium on as many as 36 occasions, it has also hosted four Cup Winners' Cup finals. In the 1990s, the capacity was reduced to 36,800 spectators. The last match in the old stadium took place on December 13, 1998.
Construction of the new facility then commenced, taking just over two years and completed in March 2001. The 33,433-seater earned its nickname Joggeli (Jake) among the locals. The arena was designed by Basel-based Herzog & de Meuron, for whom this was the first major sports facility they had worked on. Nowadays, their portfolio has grown considerably in this field, just to mention Allianz Arena in Munich or Matmut Atlantique in Bordeaux.
In 2008, Switzerland, together with Austria, hosted the UEFA Euro, and prior to the tournament, St. Jakob-Park was expanded. The north stand was enlarged to include a third level, allowing almost 40,000 fans to attend matches. Among others, Basel hosted the opening match of the championships. After the event, some of the seats were dismantled and now the capacity of the Joggeli stands at 36,000 spectators.
20 years after the opening, the time had come for further changes to the arena. The task of preparing the modernisation concept was consequently entrusted to Herzog & de Meuron. The project was initiated by the facility manager Genossenschaft Stadion St. Jakob-Park and its user FC Basel. The enterprise has been given the name STADION+. At the end of August 2022, renderings of the stadium after the redevelopment were shown.
What is most striking in the images presented, is the new facade of the facility. The former, at one time exceptionally modern exterior consisting of numerous scales that could be opened and closed, will be eliminated. It will be replaced by an integrated, angled envelope to allow more space to be created behind the stands. This will widen the spectator passages, which could be used in a number of ways.
The environmental aspect is also very important, as the new façade will feature photovoltaic panels to provide sufficient energy for the entire stadium. The increased surface area of the roof will also allow more rainwater to be collected, which can be then reused. Great emphasis has also been placed on fan safety. Entry and exit routes to the venue will be separated, and visiting fans will reach their section via a segregated corridor. Hospitality will be improved by refurbishing the existing boxes and creating new ones in the upper section of the north stand.
The changes made will mean that the capacity of St Jacob-Park will be reduced. There will be 33,023 seats available for fans in the upgraded stadium. The investors hope to obtain all the necessary permits and guarantees by 2025, which would allow design work to be carried out in the same year. This would enable construction to start at the beginning of 2026 and last until the end of 2027. While the work is being carried out, the stadium will still be in use.
The modernisation is expected to cost around CHF 50 million. In addition, between 10 and 20 million, which the club will put up, is to be used for a new hospitality area. CHF 5 million is to be provided by Genossenschaft Stadion St. Jakob-Park, but in order to close the budget for the project, public funding will have to be obtained.