Safety concerns about AFAS stadium ignored, says fmr. Alkmaar alderman

The roof of the AFAS stadium in Alkmaar partially collapsed during a storm, 10 August 2019
The roof of the AFAS stadium in Alkmaar partially collapsed during a storm, 10 August 2019Photo: AZ Alkmaar/Twitter

A report raising concerns about fire safety and structural integrity of AFAS stadium that was released shortly before the new stadium opened in 2006, was ignored by the Alkmaar city council and office of mayor and aldermen, former alderman Victor Kloos said to De Stentor. 

"We warned about it at the time. In the meantime, I have requested all documents, investigations and reports from that time from the municipality", party leader Kloos of OPA - currently the largest party in the Alkmaar city council - said to the newspaper. 

In 2006, Kloos was alderman for Safety. He came across a secret report raising concerns about the fire safety and structural integrity of the new football stadium, which was almost ready to open at the time. The report was written by construction and fire expert Ynso Suurenbroek and circulated in the town hall, he said to the newspaper. Shortly after the roof of the AFAS stadium partially collapsed during a storm on Saturday, Suurenbroek spoke of "spaghetti construction" and said it was a matter of time before the roof collapsed, according to De Stentor.

"It was shortly after the elections and I was an alderman and a council member. Our party asked questions about the integrity of the construction", Kloos said. He was met with resistance from the mayor and fellow alderman, who called Kloos' attitude "unusually destructive" and "out of all proportions", according to the newspaper. Kloos was silenced and the sitting office of mayor and aldermen, without him, ignored Suurenbroek's report, he said. "If I am very honest, I have never really understood why", he said. "The office just wanted the stadium to come and did not want a discussion." According to Kloos, the then owner of AZ and financier of the stadium Dirk Scheringa also knew about the report.

The municipality of Alkmaar is currently searching for all reports from 2006, spokesperson Ellen Duijn said to De Stentor. Football club AZ told the newspaper that a building permit was granted for solar panels on the stadium's roof, and that the permit included a re-evaluation of the construction. But the municipality is also still looking for the permit, the newspaper writes. The Safety Declaration for the 2019/2020 football season by football association KNVB states that the stadium's "structural safety" was last inspected in April 2018.

Why the roof collapsed during a storm on Saturday is not yet clear. The Dutch Safety Board launched an exploratory investigation. AZ also hired an independent firm to investigate. 

AZ fans are baffled, pointing out to newspaper AD that the stadium withstood far stronger storms in the past. As a result of the collapse, AZ can currently play no home matches at the stadium. These matches will have to be played elsewhere. "We will not go to Amsterdam if we need another stadium", one AZ fan said to AD. "Then rather to Telstar without everyone being able to be there because only 4 thousand people can fit. Another option is Utrecht, but that is very far away for the fans."

The municipality of Utrecht announced that it will have Stadium Galgenwaard inspected for structural integrity, as a precaution after the AFAS roof collapse, reports.