Discoveries A bit of history

Gerland stadium

Matmut Stadium ©Tekoaphotos
Isabelle Fournet
By Isabelle
Published on 16/02/2023

Located in Lyon’s 7 th district, Gerland stadium, now known as ‘Matmut Stadium’, was formerly the home ground of Lyon’s biggest football team. Since 2017, it has been the stronghold of LOU Rugby Lyon.

Considered to be a masterpiece of reinforced concrete architecture, Lyon’s first municipal stadium was designed by the Lyonnais architect Tony Garnier in Lyon’s 7 th district, at the
request of the mayor Édouard Herriot, for the Exposition internationale urbaine (the 1914 World's Fair held in Lyon). Construction began in 1913 but was interrupted because of the war. The initial ambitious multi-sports project was scaled back and inaugurated on the 23 rd of May 1926, and then regularly modified up until 1932.

It was listed as a ‘Monument Historique’ (historic monument) on the 4 th of October 1967 and also received the title ‘Patrimoine du XXe siècle’ (heritage of the 20 th century).

With its four monumental entrance porticos in the form of triumphal arches and its arched gallery encircling the open-air stands, the stadium’s design was inspired by Ancient Greece.

In 1950, the stadium became a temple of the beautiful game. It was modified many times to increase its capacity, to the detriment of other sports. In 1984, for the European Football Championship, the athletics track was removed to create a ditch around the pitch. With the addition of the stands Jean Jaurès and Jean Bouin, capacity was increased to 51,860.

The record for the biggest crowd was reached on the 5 th of October 1986, when 53,000 young people gathered there for the visit of Pope Jean-Paul II, creating as much excitement as the big concerts of the 1990s (including Pink Floyd, Johnny Hallyday, the Rolling Stones, and even Michael Jackson!).From 1996 to 1998,
local architect Albert Constantin restructured the south and north ends, adding covered stands and boxes in preparation for the Football World Cup. He renovated the stadium again, in the spirit of the original work of Tony Garnier, when the LOU Rugby club moved to the stadium in 2017, reducing its capacity to 35,029 seats to provide greater visibility and comfort for spectators.

Now the “official stadium” for rugby in Lyon, the site will host training sessions of the All Blacks during the next Rugby World Cup, to be held from the 8 th of September to the 28 th of October. Five of these world cup matches will be played in Lyon, but at the Groupama Stadium instead!

Matmut Stadium de Gerland

Matmut Stadium de Gerland

Historic site and monument

353 avenue Tony Garnier - 69007 Lyon 7ème
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