History King Baudouin Stadium

The Jubilee Stadium (1930)

The Jubilee Stadium, or Centenary Stadium as the arena was originally called, was an initiative of Brussels Mayor Adolphe Max. His motivations was driven by two sound ideas. Firstly he wanted the Low Countries Derby between Belgium and the Netherlands, which was usually played at the Antwerp Bosuilstadion (40,000 seats), to permanently move to Brussels and secondly the new stadium was to be the jewel in the crown of the Belgian centenary celebrations. The stadium was built at the Heysel site in the middle of the exhibition park northwest of the city.

 

The velodrome goes up in smoke

Velodrome The decision to build a large stadium with 70,000 seats that could accommodate all sports was taken in 1927. Construction began two years later. It was officially opened on 23 August 1930 with the Track Cycling WC. The first (friendly) football match was played there on 14 September 1930 when the Red Devils beat the Netherlands 4-1. The first official international competition followed just under a year later. On 11 October 1931 Belgium beat Poland 2-1 in front of 40,000 spectators.

Even though the stadium was built for various sports it appeared that the cycling track was detrimental to the stadium’s atmosphere during football games. After the velodrome was torn up and used for firewood by the Germans during the Second World War it was not rebuilt. Football fans breathed a huge sigh of relief and thereafter the stadium celebrated many great football triumphs

 

The Heysel Stadium (1946)

After the Second World War the stadium was rechristened the ‘Heysel Stadium’. Despite the fact that the cycling track had disappeared it maintained its multifunctional character. In 1971 a Tartan track was laid and in 1974 a revolutionary lighting system was installed that was the most performant in Europe at the time. In the same year a new covered grandstand was constructed opposite the main grandstand.

The good name and reputation that the stadium had gradually built up in the sporting world was swept away in one terrible blow on 29 May 1985 during the Heysel Stadium disaster in which 39 football fans lost their lives: a dark day in the stadium’s history and also for Belgian and international football. For a long time the stadium was a forbidden area and the case for modernising the sports arena dragged on.

The King Baudouin Stadium (1995)

King Baudouin StadiumIt was only with the Belgian-Dutch candidature for Euro 2000 that the case was reopened. On 25 October 1993 a protocol agreement was signed between the Federal Government (due to the stadium’s international role), the City of Brussels (owner of the infrastructure), the Brussels Capital Region, the non-profit Brussels Expo and the Royal Belgian Football Association. The project's cost was 37 million EUR.

Apart from the front gable of the main grandstand the entire stadium was demolished and rebuilt as a fully covered arena with around 50,000 seats. Only the corners along both sides of the main grandstand were left open. The old name ‘Heysel stadium’ was exiled to its sad past and under the proposal of the former Football Association President Michel D’Hooghe the stadium was rechristened the ‘King Baudouin Stadium’ as a tribute to the Belgian King who had died suddenly in 1993.

On 23 August 1995 the stadium was officially inaugurated with a friendly international game with the recently reunited Germany who was beaten by the Red Devils 1-2. It was the climax of the the Royal Belgian Football Association's centenary celebrations .

The second renovation phase began on 27 January 1997. The stadium as we know it today was officially opened on 28 August 1998, to commemorate the Van Damme Memorial. Today the stadium offers 50,122 covered seats.

 

K. Boudewijnstadion