For the new season Red Star have moved back to the Stade Bauer, their home for more than 100 years. It questions what the club and the city of St. Ouen have done over the last two years. The question what to do with the Bauer remain unanswered. As do those concerning a new stadium in the dock area of St. Ouen.
Back to Square One
After two years of migration Red Star will play their home games in their natural home: The Stade Bauer in St. Ouen on the northern periphery of Paris. This seems to be the most natural thing to do after relegation at the end of last season. It means that two years of wandering have come to an end. After winning promotion in May 2015 the club had to migrate to the Stade Pierre Brisson in Beauvais, around 100 kilometres to the north of Paris. Getting there is only possible via car for an evening kick-off, as most games commence at 8pm in Ligue 2. The move was not popular even though it meant gate figures could exceed 2999, the number which is allowed at Stade Bauer.
For their second season in Ligue 2 Red Star made it slightly better in agreeing to move to the Stade Jean Bouin next to the Parc des Princes in Paris. It was not home either and felt strange. The ground is ultra modern; Red Star’s home ground is from different age. The ground is usually used by Stade Francais, one of France’s top Rugby clubs. Moreover, it is located in the 16th. district, one of the poshest and richest of the city. For the supporters this was enough to chant that all the world hates the 16th. Arrondissement of Paris. Although playing in the neighbourhood of PSG, Red Star plied their trade to avoid relegation. It was a futile effort. At the end of the season, they finished 19th. out of 20. Being relegated meant a return to the Stade Bauer, something the supporters are elated about.
Home is where the heart is?
Even though the club always states that Bauer is the heart and force of the Red Star, the sincerity of their intentions are redoubtable to say the least. For years club and supporters have been arguing where the new home of the club should be. The former led by the president want a new stadium in a different area of St. Ouen. Of course, regeneration of former industrial areas is necessary. The question is if it needs a football club including a new stadium to undertake this project? Additionally, why has it taken so long and nothing has happened? The supporters are radiant that their beloved club is back at home. For them the club must not go anywhere. The Stade Bauer is in a dire state. The main stand has not seen any works for decades to say the least. It has its charms. The roof is low and therefore the noise by the home fans is amplified and at times deafening. It is an experience. The new stand which houses the dressing rooms, the bar and the press centre is left to decay. It could house several thousand supporters while the main stand is being overhauled at some point in the future. The opposite stand needs to be torn down and built from scratch. A thunderstorm in 1999(!!!) has damaged the roof which has not been replaced. This area of the ground looks a shambles.
Renovating the ground is a task for the club. They have demanded a lot in the past couple of years. Travelling hundreds of kilometres for a home match is tough and the club should be grateful to have such fans undertaking this journey. For the time being the status quo remains in place. We shall see where the Red Star will be wandering soon.