Tuesday 21 November 2017

Stadium works won't halt Munster's European bid

The redevelopment works at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille where Munster take on Toulon in the Heineken Cup on Sunday
The redevelopment works at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille where Munster take on Toulon in the Heineken Cup on Sunday

John Fallon and David Kelly

Heineken Cup organisers ERC have assured supporters that Stade Velodrome in Marseille is ready to stage Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final despite a massive redevelopment programme which is nearing completion.

The expected 7,000-strong Munster contingent will get a shock when they see the stadium for the first time as it is a gigantic building site, with the €267m building project reaching a conclusion.

Capacity at the stadium has been reduced from 60,000 to 40,000 while the work is ongoing, which includes a spectacular roof that is almost complete.

Hundreds of workers will spend the next few days transforming the building site back to a working stadium but this is an ongoing process as major football and rugby games have continued to take place at the Marseille venue since the redevelopment started last year.

"While the venue is being redeveloped, it is and has been used throughout the season for both football and rugby including several high-profile Champions League matches. More recently an attendance of 38,800 watched Toulon play Toulouse in the Top 14," an ERC spokesperson said.

"A range of health and safety procedures and protocols are in place to ensure supporters can enjoy what promises to be another wonderful European occasion."

Meanwhile, Munster's incoming assistant coach Mick O'Driscoll says that victory would be the greatest in the club's professional era.

"Hand on heart, there's no reason why Munster cannot win this match and if they do, it will be up there with their greatest achievements in the Heineken Cup," said the Reds' 2006 and 2008 title winner.

Irish Independent

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