The AFAS Stadion is a soccer stadium located in Mechelen, Belgium. The stadium, which mainly hosts the games of Yellow Red KV Mechelen, has a capacity of 16,700 seats.
KV Mechelen has played its home games here since August 27, 1911, after the then president Francis Dessain bought the 2.5-acre site. Initially there was a chalet (which was only demolished in 2007), dressing rooms and a couple of small wooden stands, which were built.
Two bleachers were immediately built on the long sides. Across from a small wooden main stand, a standing stand of seven steps high rose, which a decade later was expanded to a stand with 19 steps and in 1939 even thirty steps. From that year until 1971, the large grandstand also housed the dressing rooms and a doctor’s office. After World War II, the grandstand was adorned with flags of the series rivals in order of classification, but in 1974 those flags had to give way to a corrugated iron roof.
The small main stand was soon flanked by wooden bleachers to the left and right, but in 1926 one large main stand with a thousand seats was put up the entire length of the field. That same year, behind the goal on the side of the Baron Michel barracks, a concrete standing stand (“the gradins”) with ten steps was also erected, which would last no less than ninety years – until the major stadium renovation of 2015/16. Unofficially, by the way, it was a two-story grandstand, as the roof of the barracks often housed hundreds of soldiers watching the games as well.
In 1952, the barely 26-year-old main stand was in turn replaced by the current main stand, with a seating capacity of 3,500. It became one of the first covered self-supporting stands in Europe, with the great advantage that no poles obstructed the view anymore. During construction, KV Mechelen was able to continue playing behind the barracks, as the new main stand was simply built behind the old one. Then the old main stand was flattened and replaced by a pair of steps with standing areas (formerly sections E and F, renamed C and D since 2016).
Although the inauguration of the main stand itself took place as early as 1952, it took almost two decades before the substructure of the stand also came into use. In 1970 the boardrooms and hall Mechlinia were opened, in 1971 the dressing rooms for players and referees moved from the large standing stand to under the main stand. In the 1985-1986 season, the grandstand was thoroughly redesigned: lounges and press booths were placed at the top, losing a good part of its seating capacity. Since then, mainly smaller interventions have taken place in the main stand, such as the inauguration of a trophy room (1996), the transformation of the Mechlinia room into The New Canteen (at the time of promotion in 2002), a renovated press stand (at the time of promotion in 2007) and the replacement of the wooden benches with new seats (2014).
On the stadium front, in addition to many dreams of a brand new stadium, the period of success from the Cordier period manifested itself in some concrete interventions in the existing Behind the Barracks. In addition to the redevelopment of the main grandstand, an iron grandstand above the gradins on the side of the barracks was added in 1987. That “temporary” stand, too, would last until 2016, by the way. At the same time, a small seating stand came up on the cemetery side, but it was replaced by a “half” stand with 520 business seats as early as 1989. The fact that the stand could only occupy half of the short side was due to the street behind it that separated the stadium from the cemetery. To the left of the new stand, on the small space between street and field, another minute stand rose up.
In 2012, KV Mechelen, which had always owned the stadium itself from 1911 until its liquidation in 2003, received Achter de Kazerne on a 99-year long lease from the city of Mechelen. This development finally allowed the club to really start renovating the stadium, which was urgently needed given its reduced capacity (due to all the renovations and because of additional safety measures, it had dropped from 18,000 to just over 13,213) and because of the great age of some of the stands. Moreover, on January 3, 2014, a wind spout swept over the stadium and a lot of corrugated sheets were torn off the roof of the standing stands and a good chunk of the roof of the business seats.
On Saturday, May 2, 2015, KV Mechelen played its last home match against Zulte Waregem in front of the large standing stand “HE” (after the sections H, I and J into which the stand used to be divided). After this match, the standing stand was demolished to make way for new stands.
Latest Update - 30.03.2023