The dream started in 2006, but 17 years later it is still not a reality. The agony of the Bruges stadium file seems endless. An overview of the Procession of Echternach.
Plan A: Loppem (2006-2013)
Everything used to be better. For stadium files, that quip seems to be correct. In 1973, the Bruges city council took the initiative to build a new stadium. In the 1975-1976 season, Club Brugge was allowed to inaugurate its new football temple: the Jan Breydel Stadium.
When chairman Michel D’Hooghe dreams of a new stadium for blue and black in 2006, he hopes that it will go just as smoothly. He sees Club playing in a brand new stadium in Loppem in 2010, next to the E40.
But it doesn’t go that smoothly. In 2009, the stadium file is still deadlocked, because no decision has been made about the exact location. In April, the Flemish government will come up with a solution: on the Chartreuse site on the southern edge of Bruges, space will be provided for a new stadium with shops and offices.
However, the Flemish spatial planning commission does not agree with the plans. In the summer of 2010, Club Brugge received a negative advice, because the mobility problems were said to be too great.
A few local residents and the municipal council of Loppem then approached the Council of State to completely sweep the plan off the table. The final verdict will follow in September 2013: there will be no stadium on the Chartreuse site.
Plan B: Blankenbergse Steenweg (2013-2020)
Club Brugge has already set its sights on a new location: the Blankenbergse Steenweg. Not for one, but immediately for two new stadiums.
It wants a stadium for 44,000 spectators for Club Brugge, with an additional smaller stadium for fellow townsman Cercle Brugge. They can then share the parking lot.
But the longer the file drags on, the less feasible Cercle finds the project. The Association would rather give the Jan Breydel Stadium a facelift.
In 2015, Club Brugge decided to go its own way. The plan for one stadium along the Blankenbergse Steenweg for Club seems more realistic. Suddenly things move forward and in September 2017 the regional spatial implementation plan is approved.
Club Brugge almost seems to be able to order its bricks, if an obstacle still appears. Paul Gheysens, CEO of construction company Ghelamco, among others, has lodged an objection. He owns a farm in Bruges near the place where Bart Verhaeghe wants to build his new stadium.
The fact that Verhaeghe previously protested against the Eurostadion in Brussels, a football complex that Gheysens wanted to set up on parking C of the Heysel, may have worked like a red rag to a bull.
Plan C: Olympia site (2020 – …)
The hurdle too much for Club Brugge? In any case, Blauw-zwart is looking for alternatives. Verhaeghe is looking at De Spie in Bruges, among other things, and is even considering a stadium in Knokke-Heist.
Ultimately, the possible solution is right in front of him: the Olympia site. Club Brugge wants to build a new stadium next to the Jan Breydel stadium, which can then be demolished later.
What about Cercle Brugge? Suddenly the fellow townsman has to aim his arrows at a new stadium along the Blankenbergse Steenweg. The Council of State does not agree, but with some help from Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA), the regional spatial implementation plan will be approved in January 2021.
Now that there is a solution for both clubs, Club Brugge can start dreaming. When Zuhal Demir approves the environmental permit for a stadium on the Olympia site in October 2021, after 15 years there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
A few months later, another blow follows: the Council of State still scraps the plans for a stadium along the Blankenbergse Steenweg. Club Brugge will therefore have to share its brand new stadium with Cercle until a solution is found.
Today a new setback follows: the Council for Permit Disputes, a separate Flemish court that decides on appeal whether all requirements for a permit have been met, annuls the environmental permit for the Olympia site. The parking and mobility policy is insufficiently elaborated, it sounds.
So Club Brugge is back to square one 17 years after its first stadium plan. The file is now delayed again. Adjustments are therefore necessary to the construction and infrastructure plans in order to obtain a new environmental permit.