The French city of Nice has a new and suitably glamorous arena for Euro 2016, but until 2013 the home for the city’s Ligue 1 side was the old school Stade du Ray. We take a look back at another of football’s lost grounds.
The famous French Riviera city of Nice will host four matches at Euro 2016. To enable Nice to be a host city and to house the city’s football team, Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice Côte d’Azur – simply OGC Nice – a new 35,000-capacity stadium was built.
The Allianz Riviera cost €245 million to build and is a multi-purpose arena – French rugby union size Toulon also play matches there – and is fairly close to the city centre. OGC Nice had previously been located in the far northern suburbs of the city at the Stade Municipal du Ray.
This was where I saw my first match in France, a storm-affected affair between the Eaglets and visiting side Évian Thonon Gaillard. [Continues]
Le Stade du Ray was home to (OGC) Nice from 1927-2013, and had a capacity of just over 17,000. Three sides were open to the elements with basic seating, while one stand was (mostly) covered. Thankfully, while the rain lashed down and lightning flashed across the horizon to the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ of those in attendance, I was under the roofed section, and even then had to move back as the wind blew in the rain. We were all huddled while rows of empty seats filled with water.
The most vocal of the home support could be found in the south stand, and when I visited the Allianz Riviera in 2014, that hardcore was also in the new south stand, this time under cover and in nice plastic seats, but still as enthusiastic. The acoustics helped this this time.
While it’s always sad to see another old school football ground disappear from the circuit, there’s no doubting the benefits for OGC Nice. [Continues]
Thanks to the new Allianz Riviera’s more central location and size, the club upped its average attendance to 18,227 in 2014-15 season, more than Stade du Ray could even hold. In the Eaglets’ last season at Stade du Ray attendances were nearly half that. The future of the Stade du Ray itself is still being discussed, as far as I can tell from news reports.
Meanwhile, during Euro 2016 the Allianz Riviera will host Poland v Northern Ireland; Spain v Turkey; Sweden v Belgium and a round of 16 match.