A little bit of history...
On 2 July 1992, the International Football Federation (FIFA) chose France to be the host country for the 1998 World Cup, the 16th such competition. In return, France committed itself to building a stadium able to hold 80,000 spectators, all of them seated and “with a roof over their heads”. 70 years had gone by during which no French government had undertaken to build a stadium (the last one being in Colombes, for the 1924 Olympic Games), leaving towns and cities to fend for themselves in this respect.
Only the State was able to carry through a project involving this scale of investment. When faced with extremely high costs, the best answer is to introduce concessions and franchising. The principle, never used before within the context of building sports amenities and facilities, worked as follows: the concessionary company put up the cost of constructing and operating the stadium, and in exchange obtained from the State a 30-year franchise as well as financial participation in its investment. Once the building contractors had been chosen and the building permit signed (30 April 1995), 31 months was all the time that remained to build the stadium...
The construction in figures:
- 40,000 drawings
- 500,000 m3 of formwork
- 180,000 m3 of concrete
- 32,000 tonnes of steel
- 1,500 people worked on the site
- 1 million working hours taken up with carcassing
- 15 tower cranes spearheading the work
- 2 giant mobile cranes for roof installation
The construction period: 31 months of hard labour! :
The first foundation stone was laid in the ground on 2 May 1995. The construction work on the Stade de France called on both public works/civil engineering (terrace structures, roof guying and anchoring) and building (indoor premises, inhabitable surface areas under the terraces, glass façades) techniques.
One of the characteristics of this construction project was the speed with which it was carried out. It necessitated 40,000 drawings. The 800,000 m3 of excavating was finished within 5 months and the 180,000 m3 of concrete were cast in no more than a year. The technical facilities, installation of the roof and getting the mobile stand of 25,000 seats in place took only a year to get done.
The architecture of the Stade de France®
The Stade de France was drawn by four French architects: Michel Macary, Aymeric Zubléna, Michel Regembal and Claude Constantini. They designed a refined edifice suggesting the themes of movement, lightness and universality. The wave shape of the upper roof substructure and the ellipse-shaped roof itself represent a feat of architecture and technicity.
One of the key principles of the Stade de France's architecture is the way it opens onto the city. The architects chose a project respectful of the existing urban scale and weaving close links with the bordering neighbourhoods and districts. Its deep anchoring (down to 11 metres below the square in front of the main entrance) enables its monumentality to be toned down. Its height is limited to 35 metres.
The roof :
A real floating halo 42 meters above the playing field, the roof is one of the most remarkable aspects about the Stade de France. Its elliptical shape symbolises the universal nature of sport. Its surface area (6 hectares) and its weight (13,000 tonnes) can be considered a minor miracle of technicity. It protects the 80,000 spectators without covering the playing area. The tinted glass roof section in the centre attenuates the contrasts and spreads the natural light evenly. It filters the red and infra-red rays, but lets the blue and green ones (necessary to the good health of the grass and soil) through.
|The stadium in figures :|
|Height of the stadium: |
35 metres above the square in front of the main entrance, 46 metres in relation to the playing field.
|Surface area of the roof: |
6 hectares (surface area of Paris's Place de la Concorde), 1 hectare of which is made of glass.
|Total surface area of the stadium: |
Turfed surface area:
11,000 m² and 9,000 m² of pitch.
|Seating capacity of the stadium: |
80,000 people (equal to the population of the city of Avignon).
|The roof's "needle-type" supports: |
18 steel "needles" 1.8 metres in diameter hold the roof up.
|Weight of the stadium: |
500,000 tonnes (the weight of a large oil tanker).
Weight of the roof:
13,000 tonnes (equal to 2 Eiffel Towers).
|Hands of the 2 clocks: |
2.20 metres for the minute hand and 1.60 metres for the hour hand.
|2 giant screens: |
measuring 120 m² (equal to 3/4 of the surface area of a tennis court).
|Sound system: |
36 blocks of 5 speakers (250,000 watts).
454 projectors (the most brightly lit stadium in Europe).
The inside of the stadium
The changing/dressing rooms
The Stade de France offers sportsmen and sportswomen the best welcoming and reception conditions ever concentrated anywhere in France. All the installations which are reserved for them are located at pitch level, on the west side, and are directly accessible to the players, who can stay in their coach right the way up to the doors. These include the reception and checking premises, two changing rooms each measuring 1,200 m² (for football and rugby), one 400 m² athletics changing room, two referees' changing rooms, two marshalling areas, two warm-up rooms, offices for the delegates, jury premises , an infirmary, anti doping test rooms, etc. Areas have also been specially designed for singers, musicians and dancers: boxes and lounges, a rehearsal room for musicians and members of the chorus and extras, a storage room for costumes, a relaxation area, rooms for keeping scenery elements and musical instruments, etc.
The stands : The Stade de France is the world's biggest modulable stadium. It is structured around three stands.
The lower stand is a 25,000-seat mobile stand. It is accessed via level 1. It can be retracted by 15 metres in order to show up the whole athletics track and the jumping pits. Yet even in such a case, there are still 22,000 available seats. Getting the stand moved back is an 80-hour operation requiring 40 people to work 20 hours in a day on ten distinct structural units each weighing 700 tonnes!
22 gangways provide access to the intermediary stand. Here, you are on level 3, where the restaurants, animation area, shops and main guard room are concentrated.
18 monumental staircases lead the spectators to the upper stand located on level 6.
The 80,000 spectators can be evacuated onto the square in front of the main entrance in less than 15 minutes.
The pitch :
Lying 11 metres below the level of the square in front of the main entrance, the pitch has a surface area of 9,000 m² for a turfed surface area of 11,000 m². Nearly a billion grass seeds were sown to produce the first pitch in 1997. Today, the pitch is delivered in rolls, 1.20 m x 8 m. Changing the pitch requires 3 days of preparation and 5 days for the new one to be laid. The pitch is changed several times a year depending on the events programmed to take place in the stadium.