Paris Saint-Germain recently completed a three-year €75 million upgrade of Parc des Princes, but the Ligue 1 champions are seeking to expand the stadium even further in the medium term.
Pre-Euro 2016 rennovation work has just been completed and the club have opened a photographic exhibition covering the 45 years that the stadium has been standing.
PSG are proud of the latest upgrade, which unlike those at Stade Velodrome or Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, the homes of Marseille and Saint-Etienne respectively, has been achieved without partial closure of the ground.
“The cost was estimated between €72-75m for a project that was completed without closing any of the tribunes,” general manager Jean-Claude Blanc explained.
“We had hoped to play away more in the national cups,” he joked. “For sporting reasons we wanted to play at the Parc, but playing away games allowed us to have a few extra days each time.”
PSG were committed to giving UEFA the keys to the ground next Sunday ahead of Euro 2016, and have held up their end of the deal.
Carrying out this renovation work has already seen PSG’s stadium revenue swell from €20m to €100m. The club has a 30-year agreement in place with the city of Paris, which owns the stadium, based on a fixed rent plus a variable share of their income.
“You are in the stadium of PSG,” Blanc says. “It is our home and we can do what we wish. We don’t own the walls, but that’s all.”
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The ground in the west of Paris’ centre was redeveloped under the guidance of American architect Tom Sheehan. The pitch was re-laid and raised 28 centimetres to help its growth, while two additional rows of seats were added, allowing the ground to remain at a capacity of 48,000, despite now boasting larger and more comfortable seats.
Hospitality capacity has risen from 1,200 to 4,500, while some players have bought one of the private boxes that offer a great view of the pitch.
The general public, meanwhile, have not been ignored, with the public areas refurbished. The next step will be to exploit the area around the stadium for the type of fan zones that will appear in June for the Euros.
This has all been achieved primarily for financial reasons, as PSG will be able to exploit the ground in a manner that corresponds to their ambitions. But the club will not stop there – the medium-term ambition is to see the Parc des Princes’ capacity rise to 60,000.
“We don’t want to put pressure on ourselves or give a date,” Blanc said. “But one thing is certain, this will be our home and we will not destroy it.”
The club has already looked at exploiting the free space behind each coach. The stands would then be tilted in a different way, so they would be far closer to the pitch, but that requires an expansion of the roof.
“We believe that the Paris bid for the 2024 Olympic Games might accelerate the project. It’s not dependent on it, but it is an advantage,” Blanc said. “Roger Tallibert [the architect of the stadium in its current guise] knows the ground. He know what we’re going to do. We’ve chosen to stay here rather than build elsewhere, and that’s a strong choice.”
Before thinking about making the stadium larger, though, Blanc and PSG will now take a decision regarding their new training base, which should ideally break ground at the beginning of the 2020-21 season.