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AFCON 2025: Morocco offers first ever rectangular-shaped stadium with elliptical running tracks




With the clock counting down to the announcement of the host country for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations, one of the stadiums being proposed by Morocco has a unique architectural design.

This is the Stade de Marrakech which is some 11 km from the city centre. It is the first stadium in the world to be both rectangular and also incorporate an elliptical running track.

Designed by Italian firm, Gregotti Associati International, it is adorned in brick red colour outwardly to have an harmony with the ancient city that is noted for its trademark of red walls.

Generally,  Marrakech is nicknamed “Red City” as most buildings are constructed
in red sandstone .

The stadium outwardly cut  the picture of an  ancient fort and having four towers at the corners of the unique arena.

Each tower carries a set of halogen lamps that illuminate the natural lush green grass and the main bowl.

This may not be a coincidence. As the director of the stadium, Rachid Naifi explained, the shape refers to fortifications on one hand and to local architecture in general.

That’s why massive elements dominate the geometrical forms and give the stadium rhythm and the colours that are all natural, from white to brown.

The Marrakech Stadium was opened in January 2011. It holds 45,240 spectators in its bowel.

Of this,  200 seats are allocated to the royal stand,  while another 600 are for the very important persons.

The media tribune can hold 1,130 journalists. Provision is also made for the physically challenged spectators as a area that can accommodate 700 of them is carved out.

The stadium is essentially for football and athletics. Just before the 12 locker rooms is a vast yard like enclosure which can be used for warm up.

According to Rachid Naifi, the director of the arena, four of the 12 locker rooms are for footballers while eight are for athletics.

The stadium, like most others in Morocco is managed by Société nationale de réalisation et de gestion des stades (SONARGES) which in English translates to National stadium construction and management company .

It was one of series of Moroccan arenas used during the group stage closing games which Morocco hosted owing to poor facilities in some other African countries.

The Burkina Faso versus  Niger Republic was played there on 12 November 2021. Before then. the Grand Stade de Marrakech some matches of the 2013 and 2014  FIFA Club World Cup.

It has also hosted the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup and the 2014 African Championships in Athletics.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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