Marseille / Stade Vélodrome

Henri Ploquin
Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
History and description

Orange Velodrome, better known as Stade Velodrome, was built to serve as a playing venue for the 1938 World Cup. Soon after it became the new home of Olympique de Marseille after Stade de l’Huveaune had become too small for the club.

Stade Velodrome officially opened on 13 June 1937 with a friendly match between Marseille and Italian side Torino. During the 1938 World Cup, the stadium hosted one first round match and the semi-final between Italy and Brazil (2-1).

The stadium initially had a cycling track as well as a running track circling the pitch. It was bowl-shaped and both long sides had cover. The stadium remained largely unchanged for the following decades, though the tracks got gradually eaten away by the extension of the stands.

Stade Velodrome received a first refurbishment in preparation of the Euro 1984 Championships, during which it hosted one first round group match and the semi-final match between France and Portugal (3-2).

The stadium was almost completely rebuilt for the 1998 World Cup, and it was then when the stadium got its characteristic round-shaped stands. Capacity got increased to about 60,000 seats, though the new stadium was also criticised for its lack of cover.

During the World Cup, Stade Velodrome hosted four first round group matches, a round of 16 match, a quarter-final, and the semi-final between Brazil and Holland (1-1).

New redevelopment plans were presented following France being awarded the Euro 2016 tournament. Works included the almost complete reconstruction of the two principal stands, minor works on the stands at both ends, and the construction of a roof that would cover the complete stadium, hereby increasing capacity with another 7,000 seats. The redevelopment was completed in the summer of 2014.

During Euro 2016, Stade Velodrome hosted four first round group matches, the quarter-final between Portugal and Poland (1-1), and the semi-final between France and Germany (2-0).

In 2016, the stadium got renamed Orange Velodrome following a naming rights sponsorship deal with telecommunications firm Orange.
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