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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. Crown Prince Leopold attended the opening ceremony. Located in the Heysel section of the Brussels municipality, it was built to embellish the Heysel plateau in view of the 1935 Brussels International Exposition. The stadium hosted 70,000 at the time. A wooden track for cycling races was later added around the pitch.

Stade Roi Baudouin
Koning Boudewijnstadion
Stade Roi Baudouin.JPG
Former namesStade du Centenaire or Jubelstadion (1930–1946)
Stade du Heysel or Heizelstadion (1946–1995)
LocationBrussels, Belgium
Capacity50,093[1]
Record attendance64,073 (Anderlecht vs Dundee, 6 March 1963)
Field size106 m × 66 m (348 ft × 217 ft)
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Opened23 August 1930
Renovated1995 (€37 million)
Tenants
Belgium national football team (1930-1985, 1995-May 2006, November 2006-present)
Union SG (2016-2018)
Belgium national rugby union team
Royal Excelsior Sports Club de Bruxelles (Athletics)

Contents

HistoryEdit

The original name was Jubilee Stadium (French: Stade du Centenaire, Dutch: Jubelstadion) because it was inaugurated days after Belgium's 100th anniversary, with an unofficial Belgium-Netherlands football match. In 1946 the stadium was renamed Heysel Stadium (French: Stade du Heysel, Dutch: Heizelstadion). It hosted European Cup finals in 1958, 1966, 1974, and 1985 and Cup Winners' Cup finals in 1964, 1976 and 1980. The highest attendance at a European game was over 66,000 in 1958.

May 1985 disasterEdit

Despite its status as Belgium's national stadium, Heysel was not well maintained. The stadium's poor condition manifested itself at the 1985 European Cup Final, it was in a very poor state. For example, the outer wall had been made of cinder block, and fans who did not have tickets were seen kicking holes in it to get in.[2] Additionally, the only escape route led upward, and there were only three gates on each short side, nowhere near enough for the 22,000 standing places on each side.[3]

The stadium's inadequacies had been well known for some time. When Arsenal played there in the early 1980s, its supporters ridiculed it as a "dump." Indeed, the presidents of the two 1985 European finalists, Juventus and Liverpool, had concluded that Heysel was in no condition to host a European Final. They urged UEFA to move the match to another ground, to no avail.[4][5] It later emerged that UEFA had only spent half an hour inspecting the stadium.[3]

The abject stadium conditions, along with poor crowd control procedures and football hooliganism are widely considered to have contributed to the Heysel Stadium disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 39 spectators before the match.[2] Following the disaster, the ground was only used for athletics (track and field) and it still hosts the Memorial Van Damme every year.

ModernisationEdit

In 1995, a decade after the disaster, the ground was rebuilt at a cost of BEF 1,500 million (around €37/$50 million in 1995), and at this time renamed King Baudouin Stadium, after the Belgian monarch who had died two years previously. 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 Belgium national football team and is the largest stadium in Belgium; it can seat 50,093 spectators. The remodeled stadium hosted the 1996 European Cup Winners Cup final, as well as 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. The city of Brussels complained that contrary to these claims the stadium was safe, and this complaint was upheld 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.

Rugby UnionEdit

On 25 August 2007, Belgium played Argentina in rugby union as part of Argentina's 2007 Rugby World Cup preparations. Argentina defeated Belgium 36-8.

The stadium was scheduled to witness a rugby union milestone on 19 December 2009, when the Parisian club Stade Français planned to take their Heineken Cup home match against Irish club Ulster to the stadium in a match that had sold more than 30,000 tickets. However, heavy snowfall in Brussels on the intended matchday forced the cancellation of what would have been the first Heineken Cup match held in Belgium; the fixture was instead played the following day in Paris.[6]

The stadium had another shot at hosting a Heineken Cup match in 2012. On 20 October 2012, English club Saracens took their Heineken Cup pool match against Racing Métro 92 to Brussels.[7]

Other eventsEdit

On 8 July 2010 the stadium played host to the Best of Belgium gala which featured a tennis match originally scheduled to be between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. Unfortunately Henin had to pull out and Serena Williams replaced her as the match was played in front of the largest crowd ever for a single match, beating the attendance set at the Battle of the Sexes.[8]

U2 performed at the stadium three times: the first one was on 10 June 2005 during their Vertigo Tour, in front of a sold out crowd of 60,299 people. The second and the third were on 22 and 23 September 2010 during their U2 360° Tour, in front of a total sold out crowd of 144,338 people. The performance of "Mercy" from the first 2010 show was recorded for the group's live EP Wide Awake in Europe. The performance of "I Will Follow" from the same show was recorded for the group's live album From the Ground Up: Edge's Picks from U2360°.

The Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Madonna, Mylène Farmer, Robbie Williams, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, One Direction, Johnny Hallyday and Coldplay have also played concerts at the stadium. Metallica is scheduled to play a sold out concert at the stadium on June 16th 2019.[9] Also Rammstein will play in 2019 a sold out concert in this stadium on July 10th

Heysel Stadium Silver CoinEdit

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the stadium the Belgian state released a commemorative coin: the 10 euro 75 years of Heysel Stadium commemorative coin. The obverse depicts an image of a footballer with the stadium in the background. The flags of Belgium and the Netherlands can be seen on top of the stadium as well as the year that the stadium was built.

UEFA Euro 2000 matchesEdit

Date Team 1 Result Team 2 Round
10 June 2000   Belgium 2–1   Sweden Group B
14 June 2000   Italy 2–0   Belgium Group B
19 June 2000   Turkey 2–0   Belgium Group B
24 June 2000   Italy 2–0   Romania Quarter-finals
28 June 2000   France 2–1
(asdet)
  Portugal Semi-finals

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "History King Baudouin Stadium". RBFA. Archived from the original on 26 June 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Tony (5 April 2005). "Our day of shame". The Times. London. Retrieved 24 May 2006.
  3. ^ a b "The Heysel Stadium Disaster". Royal Belgian Football Association. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  4. ^ "LFC Story 1985". Liverpool Official Website. Archived from the original on 20 May 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2006.
  5. ^ Enrico Sisti (28 May 2010). "Il calcio cambiò per sempre" (in Italian). la Repubblica. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Stade Français Paris v Ulster Rugby". European Rugby Cup. 20 December 2009. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Sarries take Heineken Cup to Brussels".
  8. ^ "Clijsters to play Henin at 40,000-capacity stadium".
  9. ^ https://www.metallica.com/tour

External linksEdit