Qatar’s big ambitions for PSG’s Parc des Princes

By Luis Miguel Pascual

Paris, Feb 11 (EFE).- Paris Saint-Germain has outgrown its Parc de Princes stadium, an architectural gem from the early 1970s that the club’s Qatari owners want to expand to accommodate their lofty ambitions.

The 47,000-seater regularly sells out and falls short of the huge demand for tickets, especially when it comes to high-profile Champions League games.

This is something that PSG’s Qatari owners, fronted by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, have wanted to adjust since taking over in 2011.

PSG’s aim is to emulate some of Europe’s iconic large stadia, such as Barcelona’s Camp Nou, Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu and Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.

The board first mulled the possibility of uprooting the club from the Parc de Princes, located in the west of Paris, to the resplendent 80,000-seat Stade de France, the national stadium home to the France football and rugby teams in Saint-Denis on the city’s northern outskirts.

But a move to Saint-Denis, a Paris commune, would signify a break in tradition for PSG’s fans.

“Almost nobody supported that move,” Professor Jean-Paul Gayant, an expert in sports economics, told Efe.

Al-Khelaifi abandoned the project and the board looked to other strategies, including an expansion to the existing Parc des Princes, which, in the end, were also shelved.

It had envisioned a series of metal structures resembling an inverted Eiffel Tower, which would have boosted capacity by 30,000 seats.

It would have been a mammoth undertaking, both technically and financially, given the stadium’s location surrounded by highways and buildings.

Added to this complex cocktail is the fact that the area belongs to Paris city authorities, who have often blocked Al-Khelaifi’s proposals.

“The main issue is that the current stadium barely has space to host VIP guests, who spend the most money,” Gayant added.

PSG, therefore, feels it is being denied a substantial intake of money, which would help it balance the books and fulfill its obligations to UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

The club has therefore set its sights on the middle ground, with a project proposal to expand capacity to 60,000 with special focus given to boosting luxury boxes.

“It would be a high cost to add little more than 10,000 seats, but it would be interesting to see if you take into account that many more VIP guests would be able to enter,” Gayant said.

Although far from a reality yet, the estimated cost of such a project comes to 150 million euros ($172 million).

PSG is already forking out a further 200 million euros to construct its training complex on the outskirts of the French capital.

Any modifications to the Parc des Princes would not come until after the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, when it will be used as a venue.

Next week, Real Madrid travel to Parc des Princes for the first leg of the Uefa Champions League Round of 16 match.

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