The Stade Bollaert-Delelis is a football stadium and the home stadium for French club RC Lens. Located in the center of the city of Lens, the stadium has a capacity of 38,223. It does not have corner stands, which gives it a feel of old English stadiums.
It was previously known as Stade Felix Bollaert, in the memory of football-enthusiast director of Lens Mining Company Felix Bollaert.
The stadium was built on a piece of land provided by the Lens mining company and the director Felix Bollaert was instrumental in developing the stadium and making the then city of Lens more interested in sports.
He passed away before the stadium could be constructed and thus after the stadium’s construction in 1933, it was named after him.
Stade Felix Bollaert then underwent major renovations over the years due to the boom of European and international football competitions in France. Till 1974, the stadium was funded by the mining company until France was selected to host the 1984 European Competition which gave the stadium its first public funding.
The inauguration was done on 13th June 1984 with the first match of the competition played between Belgium and Yugoslavia.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup in France saw the Stade Felix Bollaert undergo major renovations. The old stands were done away with and three new stands were erected. Equipped with modern facilities, the stadium was inaugurated in October 1997 with France playing against South Africa.
In 2012, after the death of Andre Delelis, the former Mayor of Lens, the stadium was renamed Stade Bollaert-Delelis to honour him.
The Stade Bollaert-Delelis has hosted many international matches since its inauguration. The 1998 FIFA World Cup saw a few group-stage matches and a round of 16 matches played here.
During a Marseille and Lens match in 1992, there was a record attendance of 48,912 fans - in a city of just 37,000 people!
Stade Bollaert-Delelis also hosted the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup, with top countries like England and Portugal having played in the matches.
The French national team have played eight matches at the stadium and are unbeaten in all of them.
RC Lens played Dunkerque on 30th December 2017 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in the French Cup and drew at 0-0.
On 9th January 2018, Lens won 3-2 after extra time against Boulogne in the French Cup.
The capacity of the stadium is more than the total population of the city of Lens.
The Stade Bollaert-Delelis has four main stands on each side and each of them is dedicated to a prominent figure from RC Lens’s footballing history: