Belgeo : Revue Belge de Geographie / Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Geografie / Belgische Zeitschrift für Geographie = Belgian Journal of Geography issue:2 pages:193-215
In many cities throughout Europe sport has been used as a tool for economic regeneration.
In the case of the Belgian city Gent we can ask ourselves the question whether that strategy is or is not going to be used. Gent is already an important university centre,
harbour, tourist centre and industrial city and the new sport infrastructure, such as an indoor athletic arena, an indoor velodrome, a top sports school and hotel and in the
nearby future the «Artevelde football stadium» are located in areas that did not need any form of regeneration. The reason for building a new football stadium can be explained
by looking at the location of the old stadium. The «Ottenstadium» is located in a densely populated neighbourhood and the local residents have to face negative spill-over effects. The city of Gent is the owner of the grounds and categorized the stadium as a locally unwanted land use. The local government already bought the old stadium for 3.5 million euro and will convert it into a new residential neighbourhood.
The club and Gent are dovetailing this project with a growth strategy for KAA Gent and it can be considered as a form of community self-esteem, creating a local identity and
topophilia. The club had an average attendance of 8,000 and a lot of football fans have been taking the main highway E40 to Bruges (FC Bruges) and to a lesser extent to
Brussel (SC Anderlecht).The KAA Chairman aims to increase attendances to a stable 11,000 to 12,000 people.
The place of Gent in the urban system is that of a regional city with high centrality. This means that consumer-oriented services with a high threshold, such as a professional football team, reach their threshold in the city. In the case of professional football a functional
substitution has taken place and the top team is located in Brugge The service area of Bruges reaches almost up to Gent and the E40 highway reduces the time-distance.
The new location of the stadium is near the main highway and away from Lokeren, the location of another first division team with which KAA at one time wanted to merge.
Dejonghe (2001; 2004c) already noticed that travelling «across» a city to visit a stadium is a psychological barrier , which means that in case of a merger the fans of SC Lokeren will ignore the new team. The location of the Artevelde stadium is also away from its local fan base and can in the long term result in declining attendances.