Eurostadium builder offers up cash and redesign as UEFA deadline nears

By Samindra Kunti

October 18 – Construction consortium Ghemlanco has proposed a new design and extra funding for the Eurostadium in Brussels in a last-minute effort to push ahead with the controversial project for the 2020 European Championships. UEFA has given a deadline for clarity on the stadium build of November 20.

Ghemlanco has redesigned the stadium to allow for a capacity reduction from 60,000 to 40,000 after Euro 2020. Ghemlanco has also promised to invest €30-40 million to ensure good mobility around the stadium as the Brussels’ ring road is Belgium’s main traffic artery.

In 2014 UEFA selected Brussels as one of the 13 venues to host Euro 2020. The Belgian capital proposed the ‘Eurostadium’, a state-of-the-art all-seater stadium on the outskirts of the city, to replace the outdated Heysel Stadium and stage its matches.

The construction of the stadium has, however, faced plenty of bureaucratic obstacles and delays. The Eurostadium is to be built on Parking C in the vicinity of the current Heysel stadium, but various procedures, including applications for an environmental and construction permit, have hampered the project.

Anderlecht, who were initially slated to play at the new venue, have reacted indifferently to the new plans. “We have not had official contact with Ghelamco for 18 months,” said the club’s spokesman David Steegen. “So we can hardly take a stance.”

“We have not received any response to the comments [about stadium design] that we gave at the time,” added Steegen.

UEFA is keen to know whether there will be a stadium in Brussels that can host games and has put Cardiff and Stockholm on standby as potential replacements.

The Brussles project has always been a contentious issue, a tangled web of administrative obstacles and local politics. Political detractors claim the stadium is a venture for private profit, lead by the minister of finance of Brussels Guy Vanhengel and alderman Alain Courtois. The upshot is that with still no con crete commitment to building, the Belgians look to be running out of time to hold on to their hosting rights.

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