King Baudouin Stadium
|Former names||Stade du Centenaire or Jubelstadion (1930–1946)
Stade du Heysel or Heizelstadion (1946–1995)
|Record attendance||64,073 (Anderlecht-Dundee, 6 March 1963)|
|Field size||106 m × 66 m (348 ft × 217 ft)|
|Opened||23 August 1930|
|Renovated||1995 (€37 million)|
Belgium national rugby union team
Royal Excelsior Sports Club de Bruxelles (Athletics)
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.
The original name was as Jubilee Stadium (French: Stade du Centenaire, Dutch: Jubelstadion) because it was inaugurated days after Belgium's 100th anniversary. 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.
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 did not have tickets were seen kicking holes in it to get in. The abject stadium conditions, along with poor crowd control procedures and football hooliganism are widely considered to have contributed to the Heysel Stadium disaster before the 1985 European match. Following the disaster, the ground was only used for athletics and it still hosts the Memorial Van Damme every year.
In 1995, a decade after the disaster, the ground was rebuilt at a cost of BEF 1,500 million (around $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 national football team and is the largest stadium in Belgium; it can seat 60,024 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. 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.
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.
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.
On 10 June 2005, U2 kicked off their European leg of their Vertigo tour here in front of a sold-out crowd of 60,000. They returned in 2010 playing two shows here as part of their 360 tour.
The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Mylene Farmer, Robbie Williams, Boni Jovi, Depeche Mode, Bruce Springsteen, and Johnny Hallyday have also played concerts at the stadium.
Heysel Stadium Silver Coin
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.
- Evans, Tony (5 April 2005). "Our day of shame". The Times (London). Retrieved 24 May 2006.
- "Stade Français Paris v Ulster Rugby". European Rugby Cup. 20 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-20.[dead link]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Koning Boudewijnstadion (Heizelstadion).|
- (French) Belgian FA official website – history
- (Dutch) Belgian FA official website – history
- (Russian) King Baudouin Stadium – information & photo