Parc des Princes
|Parc des Princes|
|Full name||Parc des Princes|
|Opened||18 July 1897|
|Owner||City of Paris|
|Construction cost||₣ 90m / € 13m|
|Architect||Roger Taillibert, Siavash Teimouri|
|Field dimensions||105m x 68m|
|Paris Saint-Germain (1973–present)|
The Parc des Princes (French pronunciation: [paʁk de pʁɛ̃s]) is an all-seater football stadium located in the southwest of Paris, France. The venue, with a seating capacity of 48,712 spectators, has been the home of French football club Paris Saint-Germain since 1973. The current Parc des Princes was inaugurated on 4 June 1972, endowed with very avant-garde architecture for the period. Comfort and visibility were the key words of project architects Roger Taillibert and Siavash Teimouri. PSG became the resident club of the new stadium in June 1973 and its image and history has since been associated to Le Parc. Named after the Monarch's hunting grounds that it sits on, it was initially opened as a multi-purpose venue on 18 July 1897.
The Parc des Princes is the fourth largest football stadium in France. Originally a velodrome, it was the finish line of the Tour de France from the first event in 1903 until General Charles de Gaulle ordered the track demolished in the late 1960s. He decided in 1967 that the Parc des Princes should be dedicated to football and rugby games with a capacity of under 60,000 seats. The Parc des Princes was the national stadium of the France football team and the France rugby union team until the construction of the Stade de France for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The stadium and grounds are owned by the Paris city council and the Société d’Exploitation Sports-Evénements (SESE) holds the concession to the Parc des Princes since 1990.
Initially a multi-task sports venue at first, it has hosted many major sports events. Le Parc was an Olympic site in the 1900 Games of the II Olympiad and hosted games in two FIFA World Cups. The stadium has also been the venue for two Euro finals, three UEFA Champions League finals, two UEFA Cup finals, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, two Latin Cup finals, four USFSA championship finals, one Coupe Sheriff Dewar final, 33 French Cup finals, three League Cup finals, 30 Tournoi de Paris editions and 31 Top 14 finals. The ground has also hosted 128 football matches for the French national team, 59 Five Nations Championships games, one UCI Track Cycling World Championships and 54 Tour de France finishes. The stadium also witnessed the first live sports report in France and has even hosted boxing championships and music concerts. In recent times, the Parc des Princes has refocused on more medium-sized events as compared to the larger Stade de France.
The site before 1897
The Parc des Princes was used as a place of relaxation, hunting and popular promenade by the king and the royal princes during the 18th century. During the first half of the 19th century, the Parisian bourgeoisie adopted these pleasures once reserved for the nobility. Purely natural until 1855, the site knew its first urban planning with the drilling of a road to make way for the future district of the Parc des Princes. It seems that the name "Parc des Princes" made its appearance at this time by taking the terms Route des Princes and Porte des Princes, in use since the 18th century.
Le Parc was not part of Paris until the annexation of neighboring municipalities desired by Napoleon III in 1860, who straddled the territories of Paris and Boulogne-Billancourt. A station for scientific study called "Physiological Station of the Parc des Princes" was installed on the site in 1881, close to the existing Stade Roland Garros. Étienne-Jules Marey conducted research on Chronophotography. The institute was destroyed in 1979 to allow the extension of the Roland Garros stadium. Thus, the Parc des Princes was a vast space that was not limited to the few hectares of the current stadium.
The first Parc (1897-1932)
The Stade-vélodrome Parc des Princes was inaugurated on 18 July 1897. It was so quickly and badly built that spectators were denied access to the stands when it opened. There were fears that the stands would give way under the weight of spectators. The Parc de Princes was for so long the jewel in French sports grounds, boasting the biggest capacity and best facilities. It was originally opened in the late 19th century as a multi-purpose venue and hosted athletics, cycling (it has been used for the final stages of the Tour de France), football and rugby. The name Parc des Princes was given to the surrounding area during the 18th century, when it was a forest used by the royal family for hunting.
The original enclosure had 3,200 seats and was surrounded by a velodrome of 666,66 meters in length. Henri Desgrange, then columnist of Le Vélo and director of L'Auto from 16 October 1900, was a prominent cyclist and owner with Victor Goddet of the velodrome at the Parc des Princes. Desgrange set up the Tour de France in 1903. The velodrome of the Parc des Princes was the finish line of the Tour de France until 1967. Track cycling was also the sport featured at Le Parc and the trail of the Porte de Saint-Cloud hosted the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 1900. The trail of the Parc des Princes was also used for motorcycle races.
Rugby, called "football" or "football-rugby" at the time, made its debut on the lawn of the Parc des Princes on 14 November 1897 with an Anglo-French international poster: Union athlétique de 1er arrondissement against Swindon Rugby Football Club. In football, called "association" or "football association", the first match held at Le Parc was on 26 December 1897 in front of 500 spectators. The English Ramblers prevailed 3-1 against Club Français. The USFSA championship finals of 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1910 were also held in Le Parc, as well as the Coupe Sheriff Dewar in 1905.
The concept of a resident club of the Parc des Princes was born during the beginning of the 20th century. Racing Club de France obtained exclusive use of the stadium for athletic sports such as athletics, rugby and football in particular. The newly re-founded Olympique briefly regained its resident club status for the athletic sports in 1902. Racing, however, absorbed Olympique and recovered Le Parc in September 1902. Le XV de France, the French rugby team, played its first official match against the All Blacks on the lawn of the Parc des Princes in front of over 3,000 spectators on 1 January 1906. The first official match played by the French football team on home soil was also held at Le Parc. Les Bleus defeated Switzerland 2-0 on 12 February 1905.
Following the success of the events presented at the Parc des Princes, the seating capacity was expanded to 10,000 spectators before World War I. The first match of American football was also played in the former Parc des Princes stadium in 1919 by American soldiers who remained on French territory after the war. The 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris allowed Le Parc to be further enlarged to 20,000 seats. The Parc des Princes, the Stade de Colombes and the Stade Pershing were candidates for the status of main Olympic stadium. After heated debate, the French government designated Le Parc as the main stadium of the Olympic Games in 1922, but the City of Paris refused to fund the work.
For a while it was rumored that Lyon would take Paris's place as hosts of the Olympic Games. On behalf of the "Grand Paris" policy and with funding from Racing Club de France, Colombes stadium was finally appointed. Colombes took the opportunity to be equipped with 60,000 seats, making the Parc des Princes obsolete. For half a century, Colombes was a strong competitor for Le Parc. In the wake of the 1924 Games, during which the Parc des Princes did not host any Olympic event, the City of Paris, owner of the venue, signed a concession agreement for 40 years with sports newspaper L'Auto. The rental amount was 4% of the revenues.
The track, managed by Henri Desgrange, who in 1903 founded the Tour de France, was 666 metres round, egg-shaped and almost without banking. The cycle track was the main feature but the size of the inner field meant that other sports could be held there and, as Paris's main sports stadium, after the seating was expanded to 20,000 places. Desgrange and his successor, Jacques Goddet, later expanded capacity to 40,000. In fact there were 46,000 for the re-opening and the two were disciplined by the city authorities for overcrowding. At the same time, the track was reduced to 454 metres, given parallel straights and steeper bankings.
The last man to win a race on the track was Raymond Poulidor, when he won the last stage of the 1967 Tour de France. Roger Pingeon, the overall Tour winner, accepted his yellow jersey in a stadium in which demolition had already started.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2013)|
Since the 1980s, Parc des Princes has hosted concerts. Artists playing there have included Michael Jackson, the first musical performer to play shows at the venue in 1988, on June 27 and 28 for his Bad World Tour and subsequently in 1997, on June 27 and 29 for the History World Tour, the Rolling Stones who played two concerts in 1990, Johnny Hallyday who celebrated his 50th birthday there in 1993 (performing on three consecutive evenings) and his 60th birthday in 2003 (for four nights), U2 (53,519 spectators on September 6, 1997) and Metallica (in June 2004).
More recently, artists that have performed at the Parc des Princes have included Muse (on June 23, 2007), Genesis (for an audience of 49,606 people on June 30, 2007) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (on June 15, 2004 and July 6, 2007). In 2008, Bruce Springsteen (on June 27) and Mika (on July 4). On September 7, 2009, Coldplay performed at the venue and on June 26, 2010, Green Day.
The cycle track was demolished to make room for a bypass, the Périphérique, to be built around Paris. Keeping the road to a straight line took it under one end of the track. Two of the Parc's four stands were demolished, and the rest stayed up for another two years before neglect meant they too had to come down.
Jacques Goddet, who had taken ownership of the track on the death of Henri Desgrange, fought the demolition order. He said:
|“||That the administration of the city, with an especially motivated sports advisor, should want to interrupt the activities of the company running the Parc – my company – demands explanations. We had been model partners going right back to the previous century, having the most courteous, the most straightforward dealings with the administration of the city of Paris, which owned our land from its beginnings. We were its tenants and therefore we had a lease. It had all the clauses that any lease would have, right down to rights to raise the rent, terms for extension of the period of lease… As tenants, paying rent, we were therefore entitled to our rights, which were that when the time came to eject us, there was a duty, without discussion, to pay us the costs of the ending of the lease. Those would have been considerable sums, because our little Parc, its buildings and installations, just 32 years old, and its pretty pink track were in excellent state and produced a good income... We found out that what the city of Paris had told us was a lease – something that nobody denied – wasn't one! What had been called a lease, treated as a lease, was just an error of description on the part of the city of Paris. Since 1898! And we who thought we were tenants, with all the rights of tenants, rights that until then had always been respected, suddenly found that under the law we were common concessionaires, people who could be shown the door without any legal discussion and without any damages.||”|
A lawyer had found that the hiring agreement in the 19th century included a clause that children of a local school were allowed free use of the stadium on Thursday afternoons. The city of Paris claimed no tenancy agreement would include such a condition. A tenant had exclusive use of what he rented. Therefore Goddet had just a concession to use the land and could be evicted without compensation.
Goddet took the argument to appeal but failed. The velodrome became rubble to form the foundations of a football stadium. The track's shareholders received nothing in damages.
The current Parc des Princes, designed by architect Roger Taillibert and built by Bouygues, was opened in June 1972 and is a true football and rugby stadium with no track around the pitch. It is currently the home of football team Paris Saint-Germain while the rugby union club Stade Français competes across the road at the much smaller Stade Jean Bouin, but sometimes uses the Parc des Princes (although in recent years the club has used Stade de France as its secondary home).
There have been two previous stadia on the site, which opened in 1897 and 1932, respectively. Both were essentially velodromes, and for many years (1904–1967) the stadium was the traditional finishing point for the Tour de France cycling race. Taillibert's all-seater design has proven in retrospect to be well ahead of its time, requiring only cosmetic improvements to meet vastly increased comfort and safety regulations through the 1990s and early 2000s (decade).
On 10 November 1973, Paris SG held their first match at the Parc des Princes during a Division 2 match against Red Star Saint-Ouen. The capital club won the match 3–1. The following year, PSG left the Stade Georges Lefèvre and became Le Parc's sole tenant. The club had to play a few games at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes (once in 1974–75) and the Stade de Paris (once in 1977–1978 and twice in 1978–79) because Le Parc was unavailable due to work on the lawn.
Racing Club de Paris played their home matches at the Parc des Princes from 1984 to 1990. In 1992, after the club was bought by Canal +, the TV channel took control of the SESE, company which held the concession to the Parc des Princes since June 1988. The club now paid their rent to Canal +. On 28 June 1999, the City of Paris extended the concession from the Parc des Princes for another 15 years. On 18 February 2002, PSG fully appropriates the stadium and the headquarters of the club are moved to a new building. After the club was sold by Canal + to a consortium comprising American investment company Colony Capital, French investment company, Butler Capital Partners, and American investment bank, Morgan Stanley on 11 April 2006, the City of Paris extended the concession until 2014.
Having acquired PSG in 2006, the international real estate investment firm Colony Capital announced a plan to upgrade the Parc des Princes, including the building of luxury amenities and a capacity expansion to 54,000. However, the dismal performance of the club after the takeover have caused this plan to be put on hold. On 16 September 2009, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, made official in a communiqué the will of the city to organise the UEFA Euro 2016 in Paris Saint-Germain's stadium, the Parc des Princes, which will be renovated. Delanoë has committed himself to "submit the Council of Paris (the municipal assembly), before New Year's Eve, to a deliberation that allows to carry out the modernisation of the Parc des Princes, following the UEFA rules, before 2016". The mayor "reaffirms his total determination to make out of the renovated Parc des Princes an advantage for France's candidature" in order to organize the competition.
Since the construction of the Stade de France in 1998, that stadium has not enjoyed a regular tenant and there have been repeated attempts to convince a professional football or rugby team to move to there. Although occupancy was offered to PSG, the capital club remained at Parc des Princes under pressure from Canal +, its former parent company, and the Paris city government.
Kop of Boulogne
The Kop of Boulogne (KOB) is an area in the Parc des Princes which houses supporters groups associated with the French football club Paris Saint-Germain. It was known as the "most notorious stand in French football" due to its links with violence and far-right political groups and is a symbol for football hooliganism and political extremism within French culture. However, since the adoption of strict disciplinary measures targeted at hooliganism in 2010, behavior of spectators in the stand has calmed down.
The highest average home attendance of the club was registered during the 1999–2000 season with 43,185 spectators per game. 49,575 spectators is the single-game attendance record, recorded in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals match between PSG and SV Waterschei Thor on 2 March 1983. The club's average attendance for the 2008–09 season was 40,902, the second highest in the Ligue 1. In 2011-12, the club led Ligue 1 in attendance at 42,882.
In a country not usually reputed for the quality of its stadia, the Parc des Princes, along with the Vélodrome in Marseille, has become an example of a vibrant atmosphere. Unlike the Vélodrome however, the Parisian stadium has benefited from the presence of a roof and great acoustics. It is often described by French sports journalists as a "caisse de résonnance" ("soundbox") for the deafening noise that Paris Saint-Germain supporters are known to produce on matchdays, especially when they chant "Ici c'est Paris".
This has not been without problems however. As early as the 1980s, hooliganism began to emerge in France in the Parc des Princes, especially within the Kop of Boulogne, which had adopted the English supporter culture brought to the continent by Leeds United and Liverpool. In the 1990s, the Kop of Boulogne developed a rivalry with another PSG supporters group, Auteuil. Clashes between the two groups would go on to plague the club for the following 20 years.
In 2009 and 2010, then club President Robin Leproux took strict discipinary measures following another set of violent incidents. Those measures, while alienating ultra supporter and initially decreasing average attendances for home games, proved effective in cracking down the violence. With its new owners from Qatar arriving in 2011, it is expected that the club will try to attract a more family-oriented and corporate public to the stadium, following the same model as English club Arsenal. Attendance rebounded in 2011-12 following their acquisition of the club, to an average of 42,882 spectators per game.
The modern Parc des Princes hosted one of France's greatest football achievements, the 2–0 victory over Spain in the 1984 European Championship final. It was also the scene of one of French football's most spectacular disasters on November 17, 1993, when Les Bleus were beaten 1–2 by Bulgaria in the last minute of play and thus failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States.
At the club level, the Parc des Princes has been the scene of some of Paris Saint-Germain's most memorable European games, in particular a 4–1 victory over Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup quarter-final in 1993 in which PSG scored the crucial last goal on the very last play of the game. Another landmark victory occurred two years later when the Parisians defeated Barcelona in the quarter finals of the Champions League, with a 2-1 scoreline.
Les Bleus have returned to the Parc des Princes only once since the opening of the Stade de France in 1998. On September 12, 2007, they were defeated 0–1 by Scotland in a Euro 2008 qualifier, a result that was compared to the nightmare of 1993 against Bulgaria by French media.
The stadium hosted the 1981 European Cup Final. Liverpool FC beat Real Madrid CF 1-0 with Liverpool's Alan Kennedy scoring the winning goal. Since then the Parc des Princes is fondly remembered by Liverpool supporters, especially as it was the theatre where their club won a final they were widely expected to lose.
Parc des Princes also hosted various 2007 Rugby World Cup matches including the Argentina-Ireland showdown.
The stadium will also play host to a number of matches during the 2016 UEFA European championship.
1998 FIFA World Cup
The stadium was one of the venues of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and held the following matches:
|Date||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Round|
|1998-06-15||Germany||2-0||United States||Group F|
|1998-06-25||Belgium||1-1||South Korea||Group E|
|1998-06-27||Brazil||4-1||Chile||Round of 16|
|1998-07-11||Netherlands||1-2||Croatia||Third place match|
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