St. Jakob-Park (Joggeli)

Capacity38 512
Country Switzerland
CityBasel
ClubsFC Basel 1893
Inauguration 15/03/2001 (FC Basel – Lausanne Sports, 0-0)
Construction 13/12/1998 - 03/2001
Renovations 2006, 2009
Cost app. CHF 250 million
Design (2006 refurbishment) Herzog & de Meuron
Design time 1999, 2006
Address St. Jakobs-Strasse 395, 4052 Basel, Switzerland

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Description: St. Jakob-Park

Built in south-eastern Basel, the Saint Jakob stadium is currently Switzerland’s largest football ground. Its name comes from St. Jakob an der Birs village from the 11th century, while many locals call it simply Joggeli (local dialect for “Jake”).

The stadium’s history as a sports ground begins in 1919, but construction of first grandstands began in 1937. It was then stopped by WWII until 1948. At that time Switzerland was announced the host of 1954 World Cup, seeing St. Jakob Stadion as one of hosts with its large 56,000 capacity (though only 8,200 seated).

Unfortunately after the tournament the stadium proved far too big for regular demand and local teams weren’t keen on playing there. It was mostly used by FC Concordia (disbanded in 1998), but due to vacant dates it also hosted greyhound races, athletics and concerts, with only a handful of major football games, some including the growing FC Basel.

Decision to demolish the outdated stadium and replace it with a new one was made in 1990, but it took until 1996 for the project to be approved. Demolition began in 1998 and by 2001 the new football-specific stadium was ready. With double-tiered stands it could hold over 32,000 people and was opened with FC Basel as long term tenants.

Due to plot constraints the stadium was built along the west-east axis. It was designed by Herzog & de Meuron, local architects who later became famous for their iconic stadiums. This one was the first to have its entire façade illuminated at night in the form of a mosaic. Covered by synthetic scales (some opening for better ventilation) it’s neutral by day and comes alive at night. A large office/residential building was created along the south stand, hiding the stadium visually.

Only major expansion to date came in 2007, when the ground’s north side had a third tier added, nearly reaching railway tracks running nearby. Capacity grew to just under 40,000 as the stadium was to host Euro 2008 games.

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