San Mamés Stadium (2013)

San Mamés
Nuevo San Mamés
San Mames Barria
Katedrala
San Mames, Bilbao, Euskal Herria - Basque Country.jpg
Full nameSan Mamés
LocationBilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Coordinates43°15′51″N 2°57′01″W / 43°15′51″N 2°57′01″W / 43.264284; -2.950366
Public transitBilbao metro San Mamés
OwnerSan Mamés Barria, S.L.[1]
OperatorAthletic Bilbao
Capacity53,289[2]
Record attendance(Football) 49,164 (Athletic vs Real Madrid, 18 March 2017)[3]
(Rugby) 52,282 (Leinster vs Racing 92, 12 May 2018)[4]
Field size105 m × 68 m (344 ft × 223 ft)
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke ground26 May 2010
Built16 September 2013 (1st phase)
25 August 2014 (complete stadium)
Opened16 September 2013
Construction cost€211 million
Architect
  • IDOM
  • César Azkarate
Project managerIDOM
Tenants
Athletic Bilbao (2013–present)
Athletic Bilbao B (2015–2016)
Basque Country national football team (2013–present)

San Mamés (also known as Nuevo San Mamés or San Mames Barria) is an all-seater football stadium in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. Inaugurated on 16 September 2013, the stadium replaced the "old" San Mamés as the home of Athletic Bilbao.

History

Planning and construction

The first stages of planning occurred as early as 2004, with initial contracts signed late on in 2006, after receiving approval to build in March 2006. The new stadium was to be built next to the existing San Mamés on land that was occupied until 2003 by the Bilbao International Trade Fair.

On 26 May 2010 at 12:00 the ground-breaking ceremony took place at San Mamés.[5] The event was attended by: the Lehendakari of the Basque Country, Patxi López; the Deputy-General of Biscay, José Luis Bilbao; the Mayor of Bilbao, Iñaki Azkuna; the Chairman of Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa, Mario Fernández; the President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Ángel María Villar and the President of Athletic Club, Fernando García Macua.

Old stadium demolished with new stadium rising behind, June 2013

In a symbolic display, a piece of turf and a brick from the facade were removed from the old stadium and carried to the adjacent construction site by a human chain including famous players Iribar, Larrazábal, Iturraspe and Muniain as well as members of the youth system, the women's team, the reserve team and its oldest and youngest registered supporters.[6]

Initially, three-quarters of the new stadium were built and then matches took place in it, while the old one was demolished to make room to complete the new arena.

Construction in progress, June 2013

Despite the economical woes the country was going through at the time, especially the Basque people, 52.6% of the total €211 million (£178 million) cost of the stadium was paid by public institution - some by the Basque Government (€50m), some by the Bilbao City Council (€11m) and some by the Biscay Provincial Council (€50m including land), as well as Athletic (€50m including land) and BBK/Kutxabank (€50m), on the proviso that the stadium would include facilities for use by the public such as a sports centre.[7] It had been believed that the European Commission were investigating this use of public funds for any possible inpropriety in the deal, but in late 2013 it was confirmed by Joaquín Almunia, the commissioner for competition at the time (and an Athletic supporter from Bilbao), that no such case was being pursued.[8]

Initial opening

Partially completed, December 2013

San Mamés was inaugurated on 16 September 2013, 102 days after the final game at the old stadium. At that time the official capacity of the partially completed arena was 35,686.[9] The first match was a league match played at 22:00 between the hosts Athletic Club and Celta Vigo, which the local team won 3–2. A crowd of 33,000 was in attendance.[10] The distinction of being the first ever goalscorer at the stadium went to Celta's Charles, while the first Athletic scorer was Mikel San José a few minutes later.

Prior to the match, the captains of each of the club's age group teams, club captain Carlos Gurpegui and president Josu Urrutia took part in a short presentation accompanied by a traditional Aurresku dance.[11]

The Celta match was Athletic's second home fixture of that season. As the new stadium was not quite ready, their opening game of the campaign (a 2–0 win over Osasuna) was played at Anoeta in Donostia-San Sebastián, home of rivals Real Sociedad.[12][13][14]

Completion

Athletic in action, 2015

The first match in the stadium under its full capacity was a Champions League playoff tie against Napoli on 27 August 2014, attended by 49,017. Athletic won 3–1 to progress to the group stage of the competition.[15]

Roof extension

View up to the extended roof (2017)

Since the stadium's opening, supporters had frequently voiced their displeasure at the roof, which did not protect all seats from Bilbao's frequently rainy conditions. Towards the end of the 2015-16 season, throughout the summer break and at the outset of 2016-17, extensions were added to the roof at a cost of €12.6 million, estimated to increase the effectiveness against wet weather by 70%.[16] The lack of sunlight onto the pitch from the roof is offset by internal lighting modules which maintain the condition and growth of the turf, a system used in other Spanish stadiums.[17]

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