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Stade Vélodrome

Stade Vélodrome
Le Vel'
Full name Stade Vélodrome
Location Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Owner City of Marseille
Operator AREMA
Capacity 67,394
Surface AirFibr hybrid grass
Built 1937
Opened June 1937
Renovated 1984, 1998, 2014
Architect Henri Ploquin
Olympique de Marseille (1937–present)
RC Toulon (occasional matches)

The Stade Vélodrome (French pronunciation: ​) is a multi-purpose stadium in Marseille, France. It is home to the Olympique de Marseille football club of Ligue 1 since it opened in 1937, and was a venue in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2007 Rugby World Cup. It occasionally hosts RC Toulon rugby club of the Top 14. It is the largest club football ground in France, with a capacity of 67,344 spectators. The stadium is also used regularly by the French rugby union team.

The record attendance for a club game before renovation at the Stade Vélodrome was of 58,897 (for a UEFA Cup semi-final against Newcastle United in 2004). Since expansion to 67,300, the record attendance at the ground now stands at 65 148 for the match vs rivals PSG on April 5, 2015. The stadium was also featured as a Football World Cup venue when the 1938 finals were held in France. The first-ever match to be played was between Marseille and Torino in 1937.

The French rugby union team began an impressive run of victories at the stadium in the early 2000s. They defeated the All Blacks 42–33 in November 2000, and in 2001 defeated Australia by one point. They beat the Springboks in 2002, followed by a win over England in 2003. However, their run of luck was broken in 2004 when they lost 14–24 to Argentina. The venue was used by France in November 2009 when the French played the New Zealand All Blacks.[1] France is not the only rugby team to have used the Vélodrome in recent years. On April 18, 2009, Toulon took their home fixture in the Top 14 against Toulouse to the Vélodrome, drawing 57,039 spectators[2] to see a 14–6 Toulon win which played a key role in the Toulonnais' successful fight against relegation in the 2008–09 season.[3] Toulon has taken two home matches to the Vélodrome in each of the succeeding two seasons. The Vélodrome was also the venue for both semi-finals in the 2010–11 Top 14 season, and was used for the Toulon v Munster semi-final of the 2013–14 Heineken Cup.


  • History 1
    • First renovations 1.1
    • 1998 World Cup and beyond 1.2
  • Attendance 2
  • 1938 FIFA World Cup matches 3
  • 1960 European Nations' Cup matches 4
  • UEFA Euro 1984 matches 5
  • 1998 FIFA World Cup matches 6
  • UEFA Euro 2016 matches 7
  • Structure 8
  • Situation and accessibility 9
  • Current Situation 10
    • Construction 10.1
    • Approaches 10.2
    • Cost 10.3
    • Time frame 10.4
    • Olympique de Marseille 10.5
    • No naming rights 10.6
  • Pictures 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


In 1935, the architectural firm Pollack Ploquin was chosen to build a stadium in Marseille. Henry Ploquin (who designed the Stade Municipal Gingham for the Olympics three years earlier) designed the stadium. For economic reasons, only the Stade Vélodrome was built. On 28 April 1935, the foundation stone was laid for the Velodrome by Marseille Mayor Ribot, on a site between downtown and the suburban areas of St. Giniez and Sainte-Marguerite on military grounds belonging to the city. The Stade Vélodrome opened on 13 June 1937, when a friendly match was played between Olympique Marseille and Italian of Torino FC (which ended 2-1 to Olympique Marseille). On 29 August 1937 (the second day of the French national football championship) a match took place between OM and Cannes. This was the first official match at the stadium.

The Stade Vélodrome is aptly named, since cycling competitions were held there. Over the years, bleachers gradually replaced the bike path which circled the stadium. These races became less common, but the velodrome remained famous for fans of OM (Olympique Marseille) (since the sloped track which extended the bleachers served as a slide to invade the pitch at the end of matches).

OM was long hostile to the Stade Vélodrome, calling it the "stage of the City Council". For fans of the Olympians between the wars, the real home of OM was Stadium Huveaune, owned by OM and partly financed by fans in the early 1920s. After World War II, however, OM no longer owned the Stadium Huveaune. Seeking support from the city, Chairman Marcel Leclerc had OM play at Huveaune from 1945 to 1960. The City Council then relented, and OM moved to the Vélodrome. During the 1970s, OM shared the Stade with the Marseille XIII Rugby League.

First renovations

1970 marked the first modifications to the Vélodrome, with the replacement of the floodlights on the Ganay and Jean Bouin tribunes by four 60 meter towers for nighttime events. In March 1971, the capacity of the stadium was increased by nearly 6000 seats, with the reduction of the cycling track and the removal of the cinder running track. This brought the total capacity of the stadium to 55,000 people, including the standing area.

Olympique returned to the Stadium Huveaune for the 1982–1983 season as Stade Vélodrome was under construction in preparation for the 1984 European Football Championship. The playing surface was completely replaced during this time. The semifinal between the France and Portugal had set a record for attendance at an international match with 54,848 spectators. The capacity of the stadium was later reduced to 42,000 with the construction of lodges.

The cycling track was removed altogether once Bernard Tapie was appointed president of OM in 1985. He chose to remove it and rearrange the corners of the stadium, bringing the capacity up to 48,000. This renovation marked the end of the era of Vélodrome as a multi-use facility. The area around the stadium was also transformed with the creation of the second line of the metro which served the stadium from two stations and with the construction of the Palais des Sports nearby.

1998 World Cup and beyond

The Stade Vélodrome was completely renovated for the 1998 World Cup; its capacity increased from 42,000 to 60,031 seats (or 32 miles of seats). The Vélodrome hosted the final draw, which took place on 4 December 1997 (the first time the final draw was held in an outdoor venue) and seven matches, including France's first match against South Africa, the quarterfinal between Argentina and the Netherlands and the semifinal between Brazil and the Netherlands. As of 2011, the record attendance for a football game (58,897 spectators) was the Newcastle United UEFA Cup semifinal on May 6, 2004 (2–0). During the 2007 Rugby World Cup the Vélodrome hosted six games, including two quarterfinals: Australia versus England (which holds the overall attendance record with 59,120 spectators) and South Africa versus Fiji. On July 16, 2009, during preparations for a Madonna concert, one of four winches used to hoist the structure failed; the 60-ton roof fell (leaving two dead, eight wounded and crushing a crane).

Widely criticized and unloved by the Marseillais for its architecture (no roof, exposure to strong mistral winds and poor acoustics), the Stade Vélodrome has since 2003 been the subject of several projects to modernize and enlarge it. In July 2009, following an extraordinary council of the City of Marseille concerning the City Hall renovation project, a motion was passed launching a public-private partnership (PPP). On June 21, 2010, following France's winning bid for UEFA Euro 2016, Marseille announced that the stadium would receive another renovation (a roof and an increase in capacity from 60,031 to 67,000), making it a UEFA Elite Stadium. Works began in the spring of 2011 and were completed in summer 2014.


In 2002, Division 1 was renamed Ligue 1. Olympique de Marseille's average attendance for each season since 2000-01 is listed below:

Season Average Division
2000–01 50,755

Division 1

2001–02 50,030
2002–03 48,233

Ligue 1

2003–04 51,785
2004–05 52,996
2005–06 49,731
2006–07 49,005
2007–08 52,601
2008–09 52,276
2009–10 50,045
2010–11 51,081
2011–12 40,445
2012-13 33,473
2013-14 38,129
2014-15 53,130

1938 FIFA World Cup matches

Date Time (CET) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Spectators
5 June 1938 17:00  Italy 2–1 (a.e.t.)  Norway First 18,000
16 June 1938 18:00  Italy 2–1  Brazil Semifinal 30,000

1960 European Nations' Cup matches

Date Time (CET) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Spectators
6 July 1960 21:30  Czechoslovakia 0–3  Soviet Union Semifinal 25,184
9 July 1960 18:00  Czechoslovakia 2–0  France Third place 9,438

UEFA Euro 1984 matches

Date Time (CET) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Spectators
17 June 1984 20:30  Portugal 1–1  Spain Group B 24,364
23 June 1984 20:00  France 3–2 (a.e.t.)  Portugal Semifinal 54,848

1998 FIFA World Cup matches

Date Time (CET) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
12 June 1998 21:00  France 3–0  South Africa Group C 55,077
15 June 1998 14:30  England 2–0  Tunisia Group G 54,587
20 June 1998 21:00  Netherlands 5–0  South Korea Group E 55,000
23 June 1998 21:00  Brazil 1–2  Norway Group A 55,000
27 June 1998 16:00  Italy 1–0  Norway Round of 16 55,000
4 July 1998 16:00  Netherlands 2–1  Argentina Quarterfinal 55,000
7 July 1998 21:00  Brazil 1–1 (4–2 pen.)  Netherlands Semifinal 54,000

UEFA Euro 2016 matches

The Velodrome will host six games at UEFA Euro 2016, including a semi-final. In 2016, the stadium will become the first in Europe to have hosted three European Championship semi-finals after France's previous hosting of the tournament in 1960 and 1984.

Date Time (CET) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
11 June 2016 21:00 B1 v B2 Group B
15 June 2016 21:00  France v A3 Group A
18 June 2016 18:00 F2 v F4 Group F
21 June 2016 21:00 C2 v C3 Group C
30 June 2016 21:00 Winner Match 37 v Winner Match 39 Quarter-final
7 July 2016 21:00 Winner Match 47 v Winner Match 48 Semi-final


1 Tribune Jean Bouin
2 Virage Sud Chevalier Roze
3 Tribune Ganay
4 Virage Nord De Peretti
5 Disabled seating (258 seats)
6 Press gallery
7 Loges
8 Rostrum
9 VIP hall
10 Projectors
11 Local
12 Closets
13 Offices
14 TV studio
15 Big screens

The four stands in the stadium are named after athletes (runner Jean Bouin and 1920s cyclist Gustave Ganay), a historical figure of the 1720 plague epidemic (Chevalier Roze) and a popular bear (Patrice De Peretti, nicknamed "Depe", who died suddenly in July 2000).

Situation and accessibility

The stadium is located four kilometres away from the Old Port of Marseille, within the neighbourhoods of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Giniez in the southern part of Marseille. It is bound to the south by the Huveaune river and to the north by the Parc Chanot and the local headquarters of regional public TV station, France 3 Méditerranée. To its west runs the Boulevard Michelet and to the east, one can find the Marseille Palais des Sports as well as the Delort stadium, which will be converted into a rugby arena during the Vélodrome renovation projects.

The Vélodrome is serviced by the bus and metro networks of the Régie des transports de Marseille. Besides several bus services operating in the area, two stations of the Marseille Metro line 2 can be found close to the stadium. Supporters wishing to reach the Ganay or North stands must alight at the Sainte-Marguerite Dromel station whereas the Rond-Point du Prado station caters for the South stand and the Jean Bouin stand. This line, which also serves the Marseille Saint-Charles train station, benefits from additional trains on matchdays.

Marseille Provence Airport is thirty kilometres away from the Vélodrome.

Current Situation

The Stade Vélodrome has increased its seating capacity in 2014 (in prevision of the Jean-Claude Gaudin's bid also provided for the creation of a new district.


Marseille has increased the stadium's capacity and installed a roof, as required by UEFA standards. The project also includes multiple reception areas and media space, better access for the disabled and better seating. The new stadium has been officially inaugurated on October 16, 2014.


As seen in the picture above, the esplanade Ganay has been preserved and refurbished. The RTM parking lot has been replaced with office towers and housing. RTM users benefit from a larger underground car park. Trees and wind turbines contribute to a new-neighborhood HQE (high environmental quality).


The total project estimate is €267 million, with €150M for the stadium and the remnant for the surrounding shopping mall, hotel and housing, the private sector to cover two-thirds of the investment; the remainder will be shared by the region, the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, MPM and the city of Marseille for 20m euros. The French government contributed to upgrade the area's infrastructure. After several studies, the mayor selected the contract of partnership arrangements included in a PPP (public-private partnership).

Time frame

The project has been completed in summer 2014. During construction, OM continued to play at the Vélodrome, with a maximum capacity of 42,000.

Olympique de Marseille

"Olympique de Marseille will be closely associated with the project", said Jean-Claude Gaudin. The club remains a tenant of the stadium. Elected officials want ticket prices to be controlled.

No naming rights

"I am not the mayor who will sell the Vélodrome or the one who will change its name", said Gaudin. For the time being, the selling of naming rights has been rejected.



  1. ^ "France v New Zealand All Blacks". Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^ "Top 14, 23e Journée : Toulon – Toulouse" (in French). L'Équipe. 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  3. ^ "Boudjellal savoure" (in French). L'Équipe. 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  4. ^ Nouveau stade Vélodrome : les dessous du financement, La Provence

External links

  • Stadium page on official club website (in French)
  • Destination Marseille –
  • Webcam of the new stadium construction (in French)
Preceded by
Lugi Ganna Velodrome
UCI Track Cycling World Championships

Succeeded by
Velódromo de Anoeta
San Sebastián
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