The Stade de France ready for the kickoff of the sustainable Olympics

From the stadium to the Grand Paris Express, the major works that are changing the face of Paris.

For the French, it is the stage for international events, a showcase of grandeur that is not only athletic but perfectly embodies the ambition of a country that continues to believe in the symbolic power of grand projects. True to this spirit, the Stade de France, the most important stadium in Paris with its over 80,000 seats, is ready to become the Olympic Stadium, the heart of the Games that will kick off on July 26. Designed by architects Macary, Zublena, Regembal, and Costantini to host the 1998 World Cup, the Saint-Denis stadium is set to host some of the most important competitions of the upcoming Olympics, as well as become the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of an event that – given the particular historical moment – will be followed from every corner of the world.

The Stade de France in Paris: An Infrastructure that Made History

That the Stade de France would go down in history was already evident on the day of its inauguration, January 27, 1998, when France won 1-0 against Spain with a goal by one of its most iconic players: Zinedine Zidane. That match would be a prelude to the grand summer event, the 1998 World Cup, where the great Paris stadium would play a starring role in several matches, including the France-Brazil final won by the home team. In the following years, the stadium continued to host major international events: the Champions League finals in 2000, 2006, and 2022; the World Athletics Championships in 2003; and some matches of the 2016 European Football Championship, including the final. Notably, on November 13, 2015, the stadium was one of the targets of the terrorist attacks that struck the French capital. During a friendly match between the national teams of France and Spain, two suicide bombers detonated a bomb outside the stadium, causing one death.

Refurbishment for the Olympics

Like many other sports infrastructures in Paris, the Stade de France has undergone a process of maintenance and renovation in preparation for the Olympic Games. Since the beginning of 2024, all events, both sports and cultural, scheduled to be held at the venue have been canceled to allow for renovation and compliance works. “The Olympics accelerated this renovation which was necessary on certain organs but which would perhaps not have been carried out at this time if there had not been the Olympics,” said Fabrice Reigner, head of the Project Management department at the stadium, to the French press.

The first interventions date back to 2020, leveraging the public closures due to the spread of COVID-19. In 2021, the old giant screens were replaced with new, state-of-the-art ones that are larger and more advanced. At the same time, improvements were made to the communication infrastructure, ensuring 5G coverage throughout the facility. Much has also been done from an energy perspective. In addition to the old diesel generators that powered the stadium, a second energy source powered by electricity has been added. “These are going to be clean Games,” Reigner said. “We are going to stop operating on generators, we will only use them in case of ultimate emergency. We will operate only on renewable energy.”

Paris: The Metropolis Aiming for Sustainability

The commitment to the “green” renovation of the Stade de France reflects both the overall footprint of these Olympic Games and responds to a much broader and longer-term plan launched by France, and especially by its capital, Paris. The collective goal is to reduce the impact of harmful emissions on the atmosphere, and to achieve this, the country has launched a series of sustainable projects, with the flagship being in the City of Light. This is the Grand Paris Express, a new metropolitan network that – according to plans – represents the most ambitious sustainable mobility project in Europe and one of the most ambitious in the world. The line will extend for 200 kilometers, connecting nearly all the municipalities of Île-de-France, the Greater Paris area that lives and breathes within the urban ring developed around the city. The project is also supported by the Webuild Group, which has already completed Lot 2 of Line 16 (11 kilometers of tunnels and 4 stations) and Lot 4 of Line 14 South (4.1 kilometers of extension of the existing line), and has just been tasked with constructing Lot 2 of the West Section of Line 15 in joint venture with French partner NGE.

Overall, the Grand Paris Express will be built 90% underground and will be able to transport 3 million people a day, significantly reducing harmful emissions into the environment. It is a valuable tool to support Paris‘s challenge: to become a carbon-neutral city by 2050.