Our very own Joseph Marien Stadium is located on the edge of Parc Duden. The stadium was inaugurated on 14 September 1919 during a gala match against AC Milan.
At the time, the name of the stadium was “Stade de la Butte”, given its location at the foot of the park. In 1920, our stadium hosted three matches as part of the football tournament of the Olympic Games, including the first official match of the Spanish national team.
At the time, the stadium could seat 25,000. The changing rooms were located in a separate building higher up in the park. The players had to walk down a wooden staircase, among the fans, to reach the pitch.
After the legendary Union Sixty streak, with sixty consecutive games undefeated in the '30s, the club started to decline. For years after that, the stadium was not adapted to the needs of modern football.
Art deco facade
In the years after the inauguration of the stadium, the club decided to renovate the main stands and give it a prestigious façade, in collaboration with architect Albert Callewaert. This is how the façade was born, which still stands today and is listed as architectural heritage.
On the upper side of the art deco façade, renowned Brussels sculptor Oscar De Clerck made seven panels referring to football and athletics, two sports that Union mastered at that time. By then, the stadium’s capacity had reached 35,000.
After the legendary Union Sixty streak, with sixty consecutive games undefeated in the '30s, the club started to decline. For years, the stadium was not adapted to the needs of modern football.
In the '70s, the Union was relegated to a lower division. It was the end of the golden era. By the late '70s, the stands behind the goals had collapsed and were closed to the public. The athletics track around the field disappeared in 1976. For security reasons, the capacity was reduced to 5,500 seats.
A brief visit to the Heysel
In 2010, the façade of the stadium was listed as a heritage site. A few years later, the stadium was finally thoroughly renovated. With resources mainly from the Brussels Region, it was restored to its former glory. New stands behind the goals, new lighting, a medical station, a deep clean, and a few coats of paint.
For two seasons, we had to play our matches in Stade Roi Baudouin, in order to allow Stade Marien to be adapted to host matches in professional D1B competitions (second division), but since August 2018, we’ve been back in Stade Marien, which currently seats 9,000.
A new stadium is a necessity
Since returning to Marien Stadium in 2018, it quickly became clear that our stadium no longer met the standards of modern professional football. Welcoming supporters can be a challenge, there is too little space within the stadium to receive the press, and VIP guests and there is no assembly place for security and medical staff on match days.
Every two weeks, 7.000 to 9.000 fans descend on an already dense neighborhood. The club is doing everything it can to reduce nuisance, but it is clear that Marien stadium has reached its limits. Add to this the annual structural losses amounting to several million euros, it is clear that the club must move if it wants to continue to exist.
Every two weeks, 7.000 to 9.000 thousand fans come to an already dense neighborhood. The club is doing everything it can to reduce nuisance, but it is clear that Marien stadium has reached its limits.
That is why Union Saint Gilloise has been working with the municipality of Forest since 2019 to build a new stadium along Avenue de la 2ème Armée Britannique. Entirely with our own financial means, we want to build the most sustainable stadium in Europe.
The stadium would be built on an area already assigned as a sports and recreation area, which is currently used as a storage area for municipal services.