Residents of the French city of Tours are very proud of their city’s sporting complex, commonly reffering to it as “mythical” and a “jewel of architecture.” The Sporting Complex, nicknamed Sporting Palace by locals, is located in the French district of Sanitas. It occupies a space of over 25,000 square meters, and was founded in 1955. In volleyball, it is famous for being the home to French Ligue A club Tours VB, winners of 6 French championships and one CEV Champions League (2004-05). It also also houses a hockey rink, an Olympic sized swimming pool, and a multi sport gym. The main arena, named Grenon Hall, was originally planned for a basketball club. Since then, it has gone several small renovations.
Tours’ citizens will be happy to know, then, Paris’ successful bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games has already stirred the government’s will to spend money on sporting arenas, and that city officials plan to spend a good amount of money in its renovation, according to 37 Magazine, a local news source. The renovation plans aim to modernize the arena in order for it to meet FIVB’s current international criteria, at a cost of over 4 million dollars. It’s a large project, that if done to completion, will gift Tours with an arena that will further develop not only the development of volleyball itself, but of sport as whole in the region.
The first stage of renovation is planned to start by the end of the of 2017-18 season, and will comprehend the widening the area of play, which is currently too narrow for CEV matches, such as European Championships and Champions League play, for which the team has set the goal of qualifying by the end of the season. The European standards require a playing are width of at least 23 meters, and the arena itself now only offers 20m. Cost estimates of this alone amounts to (900k EU) (around $1 million dollars), which stills needs to be aproved by public authorities. In order for the widening to be possible, the ground will be raised by about 2ft. This will render the first row of seats useless, and to maintain the arena’s capacity of 3000 seats, meeting international standards, box seats will be built at the top of the stands. The first stage of renovation will also call for new LED lighting to replace the aging existing lightning system, which requires 20 minutes of heating every time they are used.
In all of its stages, the renovations calls for over 4.5 millon EU (around $5.4 million dollars) of total funding up until 2020. The later stages will be aimed at building smaller courts in the arena’s perimeter in order to expand services to the volleyball community, as the club houses social projects aimed at students and seniors. Outside of volleyball matches, the renovation also aims to make the arena a place of social life, and thus aims for the installation of a bar or a restaurant, a library, and a club shop.
Here is what Tours VB general manager, Pascal Foussard, had to say about the renovation plans:
The Sports Palace is a great place which we want to care for many reasons: first, it’s part of our history, second, because since it’s located at a privileged city site, it functions as a great leisure space for the community that is accessible to all. We want to build two new sporting lots as this would allow us to answer to a heightened demand from more and more young people that want to play volleyball, which as of now, we can’t, due to the lack space. We have a social project around the practice of volleyball that offers classes to all age levels, from young students to seniors, but the number of people that are reached is limited. The renovation of the sports complex should allow us to continue and expand this work.
If we want the club to continue moving forward, it must be connected to its physical space. It needs to reach the population not only on game nights, but also in the rest of the time.
The 2024 Olympic games will be in Paris, and we know that this can have repercussions on sports. It is necessary that we do not miss this opportunity to develop our sporting complex, as projects like these will also allow us to host national teams, for example.