“Paris deserves a better stadium” and whether it is the Parc des Princes or not will depend on the willingness of the Paris City Council to cede the Porte d’Auteuil site to PSG. Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, capital club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi put a coin into the machine that PSG has been carrying since the arrival of the Qataris in Paris.
2011-2012: Qatar arrives and puts their feet on the plate
When QSI bought the club in 2011, the question of the dilapidated Parc des Princes, whose fate was already in doubt under the previous management, quickly arose. In November 2011, in our columns, Nasser Al-Khelaifi already argued that “the Parc des Princes is PSG’s home, but the refurbishment of the park must meet our needs and our ambitions.”
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The first intense confrontation on this issue took place in 2012 between PSG and the city of Paris. A refurbishment project with an eye on Euro 2016 is on the agenda, but then the Qataris want to capitalize on that momentum to carry out massive work and increase capacity to the oft-repeated figure of 60,000 seats, even if that means demolition for rebuilding, which excludes the city. Such a project would force PSG to move to the Stade de France for at least two seasons during renovations. At the time, Nicolas Sarkozy even publicly insisted that PSG settle there permanently.
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At the end of these long months of discussions, the club is finally bending, in part at the call of its supporters, who massively support the fact that Paris does not leave its historic residence. The massive renovation project will ultimately only be cosmetic and PSG will not need to relocate. “This is positive for France and Euro 2016, positive for Paris,” said Jean-Claude Blanc. PSG are also a winner because they give themselves time to think about something ambitious, even far-sighted, about the Parc des Princes. »
2015-2016: after reconstruction, the expansion is back in force
In the course of work, the topic gradually disappears from the discussion. In our columns, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, goes in the direction of the first wishes of the Qataris, arguing that “we need a park with 60,000 seats” and that “all hypotheses are being worked out with the club” for a future project.
Behind the scenes, negotiations are still underway between City and the club, which already wants to become the owner of the enclosure. PSG, in close collaboration with stadium architect Roger Tailibert, who died in 2019, would even find a solution to realize his dream of reaching 60,000 seats. “One solution is to break the entire lower crown and remake the new steps with a different slope,” explained a specialist who worked on the file in the past. We need to bring the stands closer to the field. »
2018-2022: Paris 2024 skyline and final file
Presenting its completely renovated environment in mid-2016, after three years and 75 million euros of work, PSG confirms its desire to expand in view of the upcoming Paris 2024 Games. In 2018, PSG hopes, despite the discussions held, finally leading to something concretely, but despite the positive signals given publicly by the city of Paris, nothing is moving forward and PSG, for its part, is also working on its new training centre.
“The Olympic perspective makes the calendar more sensitive,” said Jean-Francois Martins, the city’s sports assistant. As for the Olympics, you cannot be 3 months late to the venue as you were supposed to complete the work in 2024.” Result: PSG cannot hope to see their project completed until 2026 at the earliest.
That doesn’t stop its leaders from continuing to put pressure on the city over the case. On the day of the signing of Lionel Messi’s contract with PSG, in August 2021, with all eyes on Paris, his president confirms that the expansion of the park is a “commitment” and that the project must be implemented “as soon as possible”. This Wednesday, in the midst of the World Cup in Qatar, he repeated his argument.