When will work on Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu stadium be completed?
Real Madrid began remodelling their stadium in 2019 after securing a €575M loan to fund the project. The New Bernabéu is just months away from completion.
The Santiago Bernabéu stadium has undergone countless makeovers since its inauguration in December 1947. It was first expanded in the mid-50s, increasing its capacity from 81,000 to 125,000. Further work to the stadium was needed, including a new façade, when Spain hosted the World Cup in 1982 and a few years later to upgrade safety in compliance with the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehavior at Sports Events and in Particular Football Matches report following the Heysel disaster in 1985. From the mid-90s onwards, refurbishment work and improvements have been almost constant. Its capacity was reduced in 1998 when terraces behind both goals were replaced with seating areas. The stadium became all-seater soon afterwards and in 2007, was awarded Elite status by UEFA.
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2018: The New Bernabéu becomes a reality
Florentino Pérez’s plans to completely revamp the Santiago Bernabéu and transform it into a ultra-modern, state-of-the-art stadium were approved in the September 2018 General Assembly. Within months, the club had arranged a €575 million loan, repayable over 35 years with a maximum interest of 2.5% and annual payments of 29.3 million euros, from US banks, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan. The remodelling process began in June 2019 as soon as the season had ended. A license for construction and renovation works for the next three and a half years was granted, with the new stadium expected to be finished and fully functioning by the end of 2022 or at the latest, January 2023.
The Coronavirus pandemic hit Spanish clubs hard - including Real Madrid but while income was down, on the plus side, at least it meant that work could advance faster than originally anticipated on the new stadium. The Esquina del Bernabéu shopping mall facing Calle Padre Damian, built in 1992, was one of the first parts of the ground to be completely demolished. The first stage of the facelift included dismantling the stadium’s roof, building new towers on the west side of the ground and completely renovating the seating areas on the bottom two tiers. The new stadium will boast a new retractable roof and a pitch which can also be removed and reassembled which means the stadium can be used for other events such as concerts, conventions or even other sports such as American Football. A subterranean greenhouse will ensure that the pitch can be preserved whenever it is retracted so that the stadium can be used for other purposes.
When competition resumed during the pandemic, Madrid’s first team had been using the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium in Valdebebas to play their home games, only returning to a reduced capacity Bernabéu in September 2021. FFC Construction, the firm who is conducting the remodelling job, did encounter a few unexpected setbacks while carrying out work but in spite of that, Madrid’s new stadium is expected to be completed on time.
Diario AS understands that the club hopes to inaugurate the New Bernabéu in December 2022, with Wednesday 14th pencilled in as the date of the official unveiling, to coincide with the stadium’s 75th birthday. It was on that day in 1947, that the stadium, then called Estadio de Chamartín, was opened with a friendly between Real Madrid and the Portuguese club Os Belenenses. Madrid are planning to make an event of it and invite many of the game’s legends to take part as a new chapter in the club’s history begins.