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History of Gerland

Publié le 17 mars 2004 à 10:12:28
Owned by the municipality, the Gerland stadium has been used

by the Olympique Lyonnais since 1950. But if the stadium has been hosting the OL since the war, it has also known an intense activity at the beginning of the century and in between the two World Wars. Here is its history...

The original project of building a stadium in the town of Lyon was engineered thanks to the will of the then mayor, Edouard Herriot. He contacted the architect Tony Garnier at the beginning of the 10 years, asking him to create a sporting area with regards to the forthcoming International Exhibition of 1914, thus making it possible to include a “sport and physical education” section within the announced event.

Obviously, the stadium of the Twenties hardly resembles the sublime building which we know today. Tony Garnier opted for a general sports stadium equipped with an athletics track and a cycle-racing track. In 1926, the stage is inaugurated by Edouard Herriot. It is a typically ancient looking stadium, drawing as its inspiration the Roman stadiums, thanks to its large circular gallery supported by a green. The four immense doors established by Tony Garnier were classified as historic buildings in 1967.

Come 1950, the Olympique Lyonnais takes up residence at the Gerland stadium and, gradually, football takes precedence over other sports.

Even though several projects to develop the stadium are regularly conceived, Lyon's town hall plans to host the Olympic Games and, in this perspective, envisages to build a 85.000 seats strong stadium. Alas, the project does not take off, but the cycle-racing track is nevertheless destroyed at the turn of the Sixties, after having gloriously hosted several Tour de France finishes.

But it is at the start of the 80s that the Gerland stadium, looking forward to Euro 84, will change, mainly thanks to the relocation of the Jean Jaurès and Jean Bouin stands closer to the pitch. As a result, the railings are removed and replaced by a ditch making the building much more convivial. René Gagis was the architect who engineered these modifications.

Then the World Cup 1998, and especially the architect Albert Constantin, turned the Gerland stadium into a modern stadium equipped with two curves brought back closer and covered with a metal-textile hybrid structure, each one 4300m² wide.

Twenty-eight fully functional boxes are built what with the creation of a complete new floor. The stadium in its current configuration offers seats in each of the four stands, guaranteeing the comfort of the 43.051 spectators whom Gerland can accommodate today.