The Bollaert-Delelis Stadium

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Stade Bollaert Delelis Esprit de France

The legendary Bollaert-Delelis stadium is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel. It was built between 1932 and 1933 and is the main Lens football stadium, home to RC Lens. It is slightly different from ordinary city stadiums given it’s capacity is 38,223 spectators, which is nearly 7,000 more than the city’s population (31,398). The stadium’s particular capacity was designed on purpose to cater for regional supporters as well as local supporters. It was originally named after Félix Bollaert, a Lens mining company sales director who decided to have the stadium built in 1931 to promote football club development in the region and previous Mayor of Lens, André Delelis, who saved the stadium when the company could no longer cover the renovation costs after the mines were shut down.

The stadium’s structure is the same as the English stadiums made up of four separate stands and empty corners. The north side stands are named Marek-Xercès after one the RC’s old trainers and the 1950s famous player. The Lepagnot stand is opposite and the Trannin stand to the west is named after Henri Trannin club goalkeeper and RC Lens sports manager. Lastly to the east, the Delacourt stand’s capacity is 12,577 spectators, making it the largest stand in the stadium, named after the former fan-group president. The supporters split into several groups and have their favourite spots and stands in the stadium. When a match is on enthusiastic fans dressed in their teams colours can be heard chanting from a far. The Marek stand is popularly known as the ‘kop’ and is the liveliest stand where the ambience is fantastic throughout the match. The overall enthusiasm also makes each match quite an emotional affair!

Given the stadium was built on mining land by miners, for a team of miners, it is a true piece of history that genuinely illustrates the mining community. To keep this intact when renovations were required for the UEL cup (the UEFA Europa League cup), the four concrete stands were reinforced without any visible alteration. A 236 ft high pillar was added to each corner to support a metallic structure to shield spectators from the rain. This one-of-a-kind installation represents local heritage and match-nights reveal the intensity of the stadium’s particular ambience!