King Baudouin Stadium

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The King Baudouin Stadium (French: Stade Roi Baudouin, Dutch: Koning Boudewijnstadion) is a sports ground in north-west Brussels, Belgium. It was inaugurated on 23 August 1930 (days after Belgium's 100th anniversary) as the Stade du Jubilé or Jubelstadion (Jubilee Stadium) in the presence of Prince Leopold. It was built to embellish the Heysel plateau in view of the Brussels International Exposition (1935). The stadium hosted 70,000 at the time. A wooden track for cycling races was later added around the pitch.

Contents

History

In 1946 the stadium was renamed Heysel Stadium. It hosted European Cup finals in 1958, 1966, 1974, and 1985 and Cup Winners' Cup finals in 1964, 1976, 1980 and 1996. The highest attendance at a European game was over 66,000 in 1958.

1985 disaster

Despite its status as Belgium's national stadium, Heysel was not well maintained. By the time of the 1985 European Cup Final, it was literally crumbling. For example, the outer wall had been made of cinder block, and fans who didn't have tickets were seen kicking holes in it to get in. The abject stadium conditions, along with poor crowd control procedures, are widely considered to have contributed to the Heysel Stadium Disaster before the 1985 European match.[1] Following the disaster, the ground was only used for athletics and it still hosts the Memorial Van Damme every year.

Modernisation

A decade after the disaster the ground was rebuilt, at a cost of BEF 1,500 million (around $50 million in 1995), and renamed King Baudouin Stadium. All that remains of the old stadium is a renovated gateway near the main entrance. The new structure combined the football ground with a running track and facilities for field events. It was re-opened on 23 August 1995 as the home of the national football team and is the largest stadium in Belgium; it can seat 50,024 spectators. It hosted the opening game for Euro 2000.

On 26 May 2006, the Belgian Football Association decided not to use the King Baudouin Stadium anymore for the national team home matches and for the Cup final, because the gates of stand one were too narrow and the stadium was deemed unsafe. The next match of the national team was thus held at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium. Because of this, the city of Brussels issued a complaint that the stadium was safe in contrary to the reports, and this complaint was ruled to be correct in court. On 6 October 2006, the Belgian Football Association met with representatives of the city of Brussels and they agreed to renew the contract and extend it to 30 June 2008. Since 15 November 2006, the Belgian national football team has used the King Baudouin Stadium.

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