Hundreds of cracks and too little reinforcement in the concrete of the stands were the main reasons behind the collapse of part of a grandstand at the Goffert Stadium last October, according to Omroep Gelderland. However, documents also show the construction of the stadium was not checked thoroughly enough leading up to the incident and the problem was more widespread than it first appeared. The news comes as football club NEC is set to play at the stadium on Saturday afternoon against RKC Waalwijk.
Not only were there hundreds of cracks and a lack of reinforcement that contributed to the collapse, but the roof was also a source of concern. It is mandatory for clubs to submit a safety statement to the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) each year before March 1 and before the upcoming season begins. Key points in this statement are fire safety, escape routes and an emergency plan, but also construction safety in stadiums.
The Nijmegen Region Environment Service (NEC) carries out its annual inspection in February to make sure safety points have been completed by stadiums. After its visit to the Goffert Stadium in 2021, it decided that an immediate action plan was needed and a report was drawn up with eight points for improvement, classified by priority. The top three points had to be addressed within a year, the Environment Department in Nijmegen (ODRN) said.
- The steel construction of the canopy: the Olde Hanter-Bouw construction bureau discovered that the canopy was suffering from severe corrosion. Furthermore, it was found the roof of the stadium had not received maintenance since its construction in 1999. Because of this, the awning was at a heightened risk of collapse in the future.
- The light poles: these seemed never to have been properly inspected before. If further neglected, the masts could break from the poles and fall on the stadium unexpectedly.
- Anchoring of the balusters (stair parts): further corrosion was discovered here. According to the ODRN, if the bolts became overloaded the railings could fall, particularly at busy times when there is increased weight on them.
Points two and three have since been resolved, but the rust on the canopy is yet to be tackled. However, there are plans to address it sometime in the spring.
The Municipality of Nijmegen bought the stadium from the NEC for 12 million euros in 2003. As the renter, the NEC agreed to maintain and bear the costs of the stadium from that point on.
The NEC stated that after these repairs the stadium will be safe for another five years. A full renovation is planned in the coming years, but this has been halted because major maintenance will fall under “capital gain,” according to the club.