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The Velodrome Stadium

The Velodrome Stadium was the first stadium in France to be built using concrete. It was built for the 1938 Soccer World Cup. The foundation stone was laid during 1935, and the official inauguration took place at a "OM-Torino" match in 1937. Originally the Velodrome Stadium was the venue for other sporting events, such as ten finishes for the Tour de France cycle race and the World Track Cycling Championships (hence its name), as well as athletics, gymnastics, boxing and rugby. To host the Soccer European Nations Cup in 1984, the stadium was altered and the cycling track was gradually removed. At this time it still covered part of the South and North terraces. It was subsequently completely destroyed and covered over to add extra terraces.

In July 1992, the Executive Committee of FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) named France as organisers of the 16th Soccer World Cup. Since some of matches were scheduled to take place in Marseille, it was decided to modernise the stadium. An architectural competition was launched in May 1994, and won by the project presented by J.Pierre Buffi. On 4th December 1997, the Velodrome Stadium played host to "The World of Football" for the draw for the final phase of the World Cup. It was a unique event because for the first time in the history of the World Cup, the draw took place in a football stadium, preceded by an exhibition match between a European team and a Rest of the World team. This match brought together 32 players each representing a country that had qualified for the 1998 World Cup. On 25th February 1998 the stadium was completed, with the opening of the North stand (Allées Ray Grassi). A friendly match between France and Norway was organised to mark the occasion, and seven World Cup Matches were held there, including the semi-finals. Today, with a capacity for 60,000 seated spectators, the Velodrome is the second largest stadium in France, after Stade de France in Paris.

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