Brussels region intervenes in search for new home for Union Saint-Gilloise
The Brussels government is stepping in to help Union Saint-Gilloise (USG) find a new home now that negotiations with the municipality of Forest have stalled.
The mayor of Forest has rejected the idea of housing a new stadium for the football club on a plot of land in Bempt, near the Brussels ring road and the Audi car factory, Bruzz reports.
But those who disagree with the rejection say there is no other suitable spot but the one in Bempt.
A previous study by perspective.brussels in 2021 recommended Bempt, with some consideration also given to developing USG's existing Joseph Marien site and that of Bertelson stadium, near Forest National concert venue.
But Forest’s mayor says a stadium of this size requires a thorough impact study, which had not been done.
The football club is now turning to the region for help and Brussels state secretary Pascal Smet (One.Brussels-forward) has offered to serve as a mediator, saying that there are greater opportunities attached to the stadium than simply football.
USG is looking for a stadium with 15,000 to 16,000 seats, expected to come at a cost of €80 to €100 million.
The Forest municipality argues that it would have to move a number of municipal services away from the desired site, which would cost as much as the club's bid. USG disputes that.
“The Bempt site is in the correct sports and recreation zone for the construction of a football stadium,” USG’s chief executive Philippe Bormans said, adding that he was especially disappointed in the rejection considering that the club has spent four years trying to work out a solution.
“Also, the financing of this stadium is fully complete and the mobility around this project is unparalleled by any stadium in Belgium.”
Smet said on Twitter that he would work with Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort (PS) to try to hammer out a solution between the municipality and the club.
“The study by perspective.brussels shows that the Bempt site is the best and there is actually no alternative in the region,” Smet said.
“In the coming weeks, we will work on it and sit around the table. It will not be shelved. The municipality is an important player, but at one point you have to agree on things.”
In an interview with RTBF, Smet put it more forcefully: “I see a constant ping-pong between the club and the municipality of Forest. That has to stop. It does not happen every day that an investor is willing to put €70 million into building a stadium that will not cost the community much.”
He pointed out that the infrastructure can serve multiple uses, not just for USG.
"A new stadium for Union Saint-Gilloise in Bempt has regional and national importance," Smet said.
"The idea is not to take matters into our own hands but to join the discussions again.
"At the end of the process, it’s the Brussels region that will issue the planning permission, it is the region that will intervene with mobility measures. The regional involvement is clear. The time has now come to find a negotiated solution with everyone."