The Rise of Nou Stadia in Spanish Football
Should Spanish football teams move out of there old traditional footballing homes, and lose the historical atmosphere for a more modern stadium for the future?
This is something which many La Liga sides have done over recent years, and now we look at the success of the moves of Atletico Madrid, Athletic Club Bilbao, and also the future move on Valencia CF.
This year saw the former La Liga champions, and ever-present Atletico Madrid move out of their fortress of a stadium, the Vicente Calderon. They have relocated to the outskirts of Madrid, where the Wanda Metropolitano lies.
Empty seats are a common sight around the new €240 million stadia, so was it really worth the move?
The Vicente Calderon was always a daunting place to travel and was feared by clubs all over Europe. The 54,000 capacity stadium which was situated on the banks of the Manzanares River, had arguably one of the best atmospheres on the continent.
Atletico's championship winning season is arguably down to the fans rowdy support throughout the season, which drove Diego Simeone's team on to victory. The Calderon played in with the style of Atletico's footballing tactics: a rock solid defence, and a team ethic which was second to none.
In 2017 Atletico left for a new modern stadium, that had been renovated from the old Madrid Olympic Park. Backed by huge amounts of money from Chinese investors, the site which was becoming derelict, was renovated.
On the outskirts of Madrid’s Rosas area, it’s arguably too far way away from the traditional Calderon, in the centre of the city. However, with better transport links, and the chance at future expansion, the club decided it was the right move.
Halfway into their first season in the 67,000 capacity stadium, fans are questioning was it really a good idea? It seems evident that for all the magnificence and glamour the new stadium brings, the team has definitely lost its atmosphere, with passionate fans sitting by many empty seats.
The average La Liga attendance at the Calderon was around 50,000, but the average attendance at the Wanda at the moment is only 52,000, despite having over 10,000 more seats.
The club will argue that they can now develop beyond its ambitions, which is true, but with Atletico recently crashing out of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and sitting some way off the top of La Liga, you have to ask was the Calderon partly to do with the clubs miraculous rise? I guess we’ll find out in the future if the gamble paid off.
ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO
A club who have already made the decision to move to a bigger modern stadium but with a twist. The new stadium sits practically on the site of the old San Mames.
Bilbao is historically a club very close to their fans and the local community. This shows with the clubs Basque players only policy.
For a club with such a small choice of players to chose from, the atmosphere and passion of the fans need to play a part in pushing the players on.
The decision to move to the new stadium was consulted with fans beforehand, and all parties agreed it was time for a change. The new stadium added 15,000 extra seats, and its new slick modern design has impressed a lot of people.
The stadium being built in the same place as the old stadium threw up some challenges. With Athletic Club playing a full season with half a stadium.
The decision to keep the stadium in the heart of the city has paid off, as the San Mames is now one of the main tourist attractions when visiting the city.
The atmosphere has also not been lost, and average attendances are at an all-time high. The future looks bright for The Basque club, and their gamble has seemed to pay off due to the collaboration and connection with the fans and the community.
Valencia is historically one of Spain’s big 4 clubs. But the recent up and down form for the team has seen Valencia become a top-four club one season, and relegation scrappers the next.
The club has recently seen a takeover by Thai investors, who have promised to lump money into the club, in the hope of getting the club back to where it once was.
Money has been invested back into the squad, and some quality players have walked in through the doors. Even better for Valencia, they now sit pretty in the top 4 of La Liga.
But the club has tried again and again to move from its traditional home at the Mestalla, for quite a number of years. Since 2007 in fact.
The so-called Nou Mestalla is promised to increase the capacity by 10,000, and give a new modern image to the club. But instead, the plan has become a pain, with the building process becoming severely overdue, with the club now having to re-submit plans to the city council.
The Mestalla is one of Spain’s more historic and magnificent stadiums, with a full Mestalla packing a huge atmosphere. But it’s hard to see if the new stadium is really what the club needs at the minute. The team is in transition, is this move going to disturb that?
It’s hard to see if the new stadium with all of its past, present and future problems will attract fans back before the team has started challenging again. It’s a gamble as always, but a gamble Valencia probably can’t really afford at the minute.
Spanish clubs are trying to copy other European countries, especially in Germany, who have made a success of moving into a new purpose built modern stadiums, with greater transport links and greater capacities. But the Spanish fan bases are not as ever-present as the German counterparts and you can’t help but think that for some clubs, it’s just not practical to invest funds into such a big project, with such a high risk of not filling the seats needed.
Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoyed this short view into the recent rise in modern stadiums being built in Spain. Leave your thoughts on these stadium moves in the comments section below.
You can learn more about the stadiums by clicking on any of the links below:
Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitana Official Website
Valencia's Club Article on Renewed Project for their New Stadium
Athletic Club's Official Stadium Website Page