Club: none | Opening: 1930 | Capacity: 50,093 seats
History and description
Stade Roi Baudouin (French) – Koning Boudewijnstadion (Dutch) is the largest stadium of Belgium, and the stadium where the Belgian national team plays most of its home matches.
Construction of the Stade Roi Baudouin, then still called Stade du Centenaire, came forth out of a desire by the city of Brussels to have a stadium that could cater for “every sport”. Construction started in 1929 and on the 23rd of August 1930, 100 years after the Belgian independence (hence the name Stade du Centenaire), the stadium was officially inaugurated.
Three weeks later, on the 14th of September, and with King Leopold in attendance, a derby between the national teams of Belgium and the Netherlands was the first match played at the stadium. The bowl-shaped stadium could hold over 70,000 spectators at that time.
Soon after the Second World War the stadium got renamed Heysel Stadium, after the area and plateau it was built on.
The Heysel Stadium underwent its first major redevelopment in 1974, when a new all-seater covered stand got built. In those years the stadium regularly hosted European Cup finals, however by the mid 1980s the state of the stadium had severely deteriorated, contributing to the Heysel stadium disaster of 1985.
That year the final of the European Cup between Juventus and Liverpool was to be contested at the stadium. An hour before the match rioting started, and when a group of Liverpool supporters charged the Juventus fans, the Juventus fans retreated and were pushed towards a side perimeter wall. Trying to escape by climbing over the wall, the wall collapsed, and 39 people died. Even though the match continued to be played, English teams were subsequently banned from European competitions for 5 years.
It took a few years though before the city of Brussels finally decided to extensively renovate the stadium. This happened in 1994 and at the same time it was renamed Stade Roi Baudouin – Koning Boudewijnstadion.
In 2000, Stade Roi Baudouin hosted the opening match of Euro 2000 along with two more matches in the group stage, a quarter-final, and the semi-final between France and Portugal (2-1).
Apart from the disaster final in 1985, three more European Cup finals were played at the stadium: the first in 1958 between Real Madrid and AC Milan (3-2), the second in 1966 between Real Madrid and Partizan Belgrade (2-1), and the third in 1974 between FC Bayern and Atlético Madrid (1-1 and 4-0 in the replay).
On top of this the stadium hosted four Cup Winners’ Cup finals: the first in 1964 between Sporting and MTK Hungária, the second in 1976 between Anderlecht and West Ham United, the third in 1980 between Valencia and Arsenal, and the last in 1996 at the newly renovated stadium between Paris Saint-Germain and Rapid Wien.
(photos of the present Stade Roi Baudouin below)
Stade Roi Baudouin – Koning Boudewijnstadion is located in the north of the city of Brussels, about 6 kilometres from Brussels’ city centre.
Three metro stations lie within walking distance of the stadium: Heysel, Roi Baudouin, and Houba-Brugmann, of which the first two are the closest. They can be reached with line 6 which circulates the centre of Brussels and also stops by railway station Gare du Midi (Zuidstation).
Stade Roi Baudouin can be easily reached by car from the Brussels ring road. Take exit 8 (Wemmel) from the northern part of the ring and drive a few hundred metres south. The stadium will be on your left.
Address: Marathonlaan 135/2, 1020 Bruxelles – Brussel.
Eat, drink, and sleep
Stade Roi Baudouin is part of a complex that includese the famous Atomium, the Brussels Expo, and is located close to Parc d’Osseghem. There is also a water park located next to the stadium, as well as the Mini-Europe miniature park, though both attractions are arguably more for children.
This does, however, mean that there are quite a few eating and drinking options in the immediate surroundings of the stadium. The rest of the area is mainly residential, but it being Belgium, this means that there is always a bar or restaurant near.
There are also a few hotels close to the stadium. Alliance Hotel Brussels Expo and Best Western Hotel Expo are both a very short walk away. Hotel Le Centenaire is another option, whereas the Ibis Expo Atomium and Hotel Auberge are conveniently located if you arrive by car.
Stade Roi Baudouin offers two options for stadium tours: a self-guided tour following a route through the stadium, or a group tour with a guide. The group tour lasts about 60 minutes, the estimated duration of the self-guided tour is up to 90 minutes.
The self-guided tour is available Monday to Friday between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. Guided tours are available one Saturday per month (generally the first of the month). The self-guided tour costs €6.00 and the guided one €8.00.
Relevant Internet links
Prosporevent.be – Event manager of the Stade Roi Baudouin – Koning Boudewijnstadion.
Visitbrussels.be – Official website of the tourism bureau of Brussels.
STIB.be – Timetables, network maps and journey planner for Brussels public transport.