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Stade de France

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Action: Football and rugby finals and internationals, plus athletics, but no clubs want to play here so extra revenue is raised by staging concerts, monster truck and speedway events, and for a week in July the whole pitch is transformed into a beach for sunbathing and beach sports!
Location: St Denis, just north of Paris
Opened: 28 January 1998 
Accommodation: 80,000 for football, 75,000 for athletics
Information: After the investigation of nearly 20 potential sites around the capital, and a much disputed architectural competition, France's new national stadium was finally built on a former gasworks in St Denis, for the 1998 World Cup. If Paris bid successfully for the 2012 Olympic games this would be the main stadium.
Simon says: Superb road and rail links, upgraded as part of a massive urban regeneration for the whole area, make this an easy stadium to visit. The lower tier of 25,000 seats is constructed on steel frames which can be retracted to make room for an athletics track. But the stadium's grey steel and concrete finish lend it a clinical air, and spectators facilities are minimal, so it manages to be beautiful, brutal and basic all at the same time. Most importantly it staged France's greatest ever victory in the 1998 World Cup, so quickly became a focus of national pride. 
A fan's view: From the outside, the Stade de France lacks some character and colour, although the prominent stairways leading to the upper tier are a nice feature. But even if not perfect, I really like this venue. It is easy to get there by public transport. The seats are comfortable. Aesthetically, it is quite beautiful, with multiple tiers and especially the stunning roof, which just seems to float over the stands.
But because of the gap between the roof and stands, the atmosphere is not wonderful. It is better at the more enclosed Parc des Princes, where the national team used to play and where PSG still play, because the fans wanted to stay in a smaller, local stadium. The Stade de France is certainly too large for other Paris clubs, so it is not used as much as it should be, which is a pity.
Nevertheless people obviously like to go there. For example, a game v. Armenia attracted an astonishing 80,000. At the Parc des Princes, just a few years ago, barely 15,000 would have attended. Apart from matches, it is now also one of the most visited places in Paris, and it has really put St Denis on the map.
Stephane Renauld lives in Paris, supports Paris Saint German and collects stadium postcards. See




Simon Inglis, December 2003

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