On 18 September, the stadium of the Olympique Lyonnais (OL) football team welcomed unusual visitors: two beekeepers who came for the annual honey harvest.

As a sign of its commitment to environmental protection, the French football club has set up six beehives in a protected environmental zone located within the newly-built OL city complex. These beehives produce around 100 kilos of honey each year.

Opened in 2016 in the town of Décines-Charpieu, in the eastern suburbs of Lyon, the brand-new football stadium is attempting to reconcile the environment with football.

The construction of the stadium has been the subject of fierce opposition. Both the local political class and NGOs wanted to block the project, mainly because of the mobility and sustainability issues it could raise.


The launch of the project had made it necessary to find a site suitable for the club’s management objective, namely the construction of an integrated stadium within a much larger complex spreading over several dozen hectares, called OL City.

The massive complex includes a museum and training grounds, but also a leisure centre, shops, hotels and a business park.

To facilitate access to the site, located a dozen kilometres away from downtown Lyon, the metro and tramway lines have been extended. But given the stadium’s capacity (nearly 60,000 seats), many spectators drive there to attend the matches. In contrast, Gerland, the stadium previously used by the club, is located in the heart of Lyon’s city centre.

To limit the carbon footprint of its supporters, “the club is in the process of setting up a system of driverless e-shuttles, which will be operational near OL City by the end of 2019,” said Dominique Gatto, the stadium’s operations manager.

A concern for environmental protection

Other initiatives have been taken to improve environmental friendliness within the sports arena itself.

For the pitch, whose maintenance comes at an ecological cost, “a rainwater recovery system is used via a gutter mechanism located on the stadium’s roof”, Gatto explained, adding that it helps reduce “water consumption linked to sprinkling”.

Lighting the field is also energy-intensive. “We are gradually replacing all the stadium’s lights with more innovative technologies using low-power LEDs,” he added.

Besides, there is also a waste management policy, whether for paper or plastic, to ensure more waste is recycled.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]