Matmut Stadium (Stade de Gerland)
|1,260 (Business seats)|
|168 (Press seats)|
|265 (Disabled seats)|
|Record attendance||48,552 (Lyon - Saint Ettienne, 9.09.1980)|
|Address||350 Avenue Jean-Jaures, 69007 Lyon|
Description: Matmut Stadium
Construction works started in 1913, but were soon halted as WWI erupted. As war ended, the project went back on track in 1919, built with German prisoners of war as labour force. Opening took place in 1920 with the stadium having only uncovered terracing and a cycling track around the pitch.
Starting from 1950 Olympic Lyonnais took tenancy of the venue and began conversion to football-only mode. First element to disappear was the cycling track that allowed for stands to get closer to the pitch and grow in capacity – reaching 50,000 for the first time.
Largest redevelopment took place ahead of 1998 World Cup, when curved stands behind goals were completely destroyed, with only monumental walls and arcades outside reminding of previous shape of the ground. Instead, two double-tiered stands with originally shaped roof were erected just behind the goals. The venue became more intimate and with conversion to all-seater mode it also lost a lot of its capacity. The number of seats fell again in 2005, when the club sacrificed some spots to expand the VIP zone.
A wide variety of important events took place at this stadium over the years. First World Cup it was supposed to host (1938) didn’t come to fruition for Lyon, but second one in 1998 brought 6 games here, including a quarter-final. Euro 1984 also had Lyon among host-venues. In 1986 pope John Paul II held a mess here with Cup Winners’ Cup final held at Stade de Gerland the same year. And finally, when FIFA held their Confederations Cup in France in 2003, games were also played in Lyon. Unfortunately during one of them Marc-Vivien Foe of Cameroon died on the pitch in Lyon, home of his previous club.
Future is yet to be seen for this venue, but Olympique is moving out as soon as their new stadium in the outskirts of Lyon is finished, no later than in 2015. Capacity decrease to 20-30,000 is possible with rugby use most probable. The ground is very unlikely to be destroyed, though.
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