Talk about throwing the cat among the pigeons – this idea of demolishing the majority of Stade Louis II and building residential units in its place for Monégasques is now out there. Put AS Monaco’s games in Cap d’Ail or Beausoleil. What to say? What to do?
Well we should not be scared of an idea, even if we feel strongly against. They say “the pen is mightier than the sword” so why not exercise our pens (even digital ones) – why not test the idea of using 5 of the 8 hectares for housing – yes, test it in the realm of public opinion. Let’s “vote” on it. Do we “like” it or not. It’s very simple – as you read this cast your vote at the bottom of this article and HelloMonaco will bring you the results.
Now let’s explore this proposition. Monaco is not alone in being challenged by shortage of space for housing. London has a critical shortage of housing too. Let’s take some famous sports facilities, not just soccer. The same concept applies. Housing is important so let’s float the idea of re-siting The Wimbledon Grand Slam Tennis Championship – even though John McEnroe might say “You can’t be serious!”. Or, if we take a big city like Manchester, let’s re-site the Manchester United football ground to make way for inner-city housing. Brexit would fade as a topic, would it not, if a serious political movement were to include these proposals in a manifesto!
Stade Louis II we can agree is an important part of history and is woven into our social fabric – do we love it for what it now represents, the home for AS Monaco, or would we entertain this idea to see mainly housing units there instead and just local sports facilities for schools. Some points to grapple with in our minds – firstly, are there precedents for this idea where a country’s home for arguably its favourite sport – a major sports emblem like Stade Louis II – has been re-sited for a different social purpose? We can think of cases where a sports facility was moved because the old structure, for lack of modern facilities and space for growth, could not accommodate the sport. This has happened in the Premier League in the UK. Arsenal and Tottenham are examples.
Chelsea Football Club in West London, in an attempt to increase their seating capacity from 40.000 seats to compete with the over 75.000 seat Manchester United grounds at Old Trafford, failed to move their site after several attempts. Instead the original site is to have a make-over: and there has been a testing of public opinion with 70% being strongly in favour and 22% mildly supporting. Even a temporary move to Wembley to play games while the site is being newly renovated is creating waves. In another sport, the US Open tennis facility took a completely different direction and was actually moved into New York City from outside in Rhode Island. Since then it has been moved from Forest Hills in the Queens borough of New York to Flushing Meadows, but still in Queens in New York City to virtually double its seating capacity.
On the other hand to take a historic stadium from a society and destroy it and relocate it to accommodate another social purpose, albeit a laudable one for up to 1000 apartments – for that it is less easy to find a precedent.
Another point, there is no free lunch. The idea is a huge one in terms of social impact; it is equally a huge one in terms of finance. What is the cost of this idea? As for the Monte Carlo Country Club that Jean-Louis Grinda is reported to quote as being an example of “nobody suffering from tennis courts being outside the Principality” – the tennis courts are a two-minute walk from Monaco’s boundary. Is that the best example to prove the point?
To the other point reported as being argued by Jean-Louis Grinda about there being only 25 or so football matches in a year and some additional events such as Rugby. We should not diminish what that means for the souls of thousands of supporters. Twenty-five or thirty matches or thousands of people in the stands and millions of viewers, choose your statistic!
Finally, housing is important. That is the crux of the idea that has been floated. Few would disagree. So it is worth exploring and sharing alternative ideas for making sure housing needs are met in future. Perhaps that is the healthier direction of this debate.
So let’s hear your view. Hello Monaco poses the question: