'Longchamp now promises convivial atmosphere on a more human scale'
France Galop's Olivier Delloye answers questions on redeveloped racecourse
Sunday's grand official reopening of ParisLongchamp heralds the chance for racing to reinvent itself for the French public, according to France Galop director general Olivier Delloye
The new stand is smaller than its predecessors, what was the reasoning?
We have suffered for years with a huge, imposing Longchamp, defined by its concrete and stands in which you could still feel largely alone on days when there are 10,000 spectators.
So the idea is to have a course that promises a convivial atmosphere on a more human scale, where you feel more comfortable on days when 10,000 or 15,000 are in attendance, but also a venue capable of adjusting to meet the demands of Arc weekend.
You now really feel you are in the Bois de Boulogne with more greenery and a greater number of trees.
Will new facilities address the difficulties previously faced in attracting big crowds?
It allows us to really shine a spotlight on racing, to attract a business clientele that could in the future become important players in the sport. It will also allow us to attract a new wave of people who are not currently going racing.
It's hard on weekdays when people are working and not available, while at the weekends it can be tricky as well to mobilise the troops. We don’t have the long festivals, as in Britain and Ireland, and it would be difficult to get businesses invested in a meeting that goes on for four or five days.
We have come up with a slightly different format, notably the twilight fixtures on a Thursday, when we'll have more chance of attracting that clientele to a venue like ParisLongchamp.
There is a free concert after racing on Sunday. Is that a sign of things to come?
We very much have an eye towards a new generation of racegoers with innovations like the ginguette [bar/restaurant] and the Summer Stage, which offers concerts and open-air cinema. It is all about finding extra attractions – notably for the twilight meetings – around the spectacle of racing that will entice people to keep coming back.
It needs to become a real destination for young Parisians that is fully connected – a place for families, students and for young professionals.
Why have you changed such a historic name?
It's not obvious outside of racing that Longchamp is really at the gates of Paris. I think Dominique Perrault’s architectural signature has given us a very alluring and easily identifiable building – both its shape and its colouring – which really puts it at the forefront and makes it hard to ignore. And we need that because this racecourse has been built to break that indifference to racing felt by a lot of people.
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