Everything to know about Bilbao Stadium

Sport inspires millions of spectators all around the globe and we, as true fans, would like to dig you into the history of one of the most significant and well-known (not only in Spain, but the world) arenas – Bilbao Stadium (or San Mames Stadium). In the article the main historical events, particularities of architecture and a little about the Athletic Bilbao football club will be mentioned. As this site is developed by fans and for fans, we tried to gather only the most interesting information.

What about the history of San Mames?

Actually, from the beginning Bilbao Stadium was aimed to become home for the Athletic Bilbao football club. Therefore, in 1912, after a meeting of the club’s leadership, the necessity of finding a location for the “lions” was discussed, while on January 20, 1913, the building of the arena finally started. Soon, the grand opening took place on August 21 of the same year. In the football match of the opening tournament, in which the English football club “Shepherd’s Bush” also took part, Athletic Bilbao and Racing de Irun met. Pichichi was the first football player to score a goal at the Bilbao stadium.
The original capacity was 3,500, but was increased to 9,500 in the mid-1920s. This expansion was followed by others until the capacity reached 47,000 in 1952, when the central grandstand was built, surmounted by an arch that is still the hallmark of the Bilbao Stadium today. The so-called “Capuchin Tribune” was built in 1957, the Misericordia or Garay Tribune in 1961 and the East Tribune in 1972.
In order to host the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Bilbao arena had to pass through numerous renovations to improve access and visibility. In 1997, the fences separating the audience from the pitch were removed and 10,000 standing places were eliminated to comply with FIFA regulations.
As a result, the capacity was reduced to 40,000 seats. The stadium was expected to reach its centenary, but reconstruction took place.
On December 28, 2006, the demolition of the exhibition building, which is located on the site of the future new construction of the expanded Bilbao stadium, began, but due to the crisis, the construction process began only in 2010. The grand opening of Bilbao masterpiece took place on September 16, 2013.

Bilbao Stadium – architectural features

The Bilbao Stadium (modern one) was built in two phases so that Athletic football club did not have to play away games while the process of construction was held. Its architecture, typical of the 21st century, shows a modern aesthetic that corresponds to the new avant-garde image of Bilbao. Therefore, this arena is a must have to see while walking through the city and
searching for art masterpieces. In 2015, Bilbao stadium was nominated and awarded for being the best sports building in the world theme-issued festival in Singapore.

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The new San Mames has an area of 114,500 m2, was designed by Studio IDOM, completed in 2014 and has a capacity of 53,331 spectators. According to the ideas of the architects, the external design should not contradict the neighboring buildings, and the interior was well used in all corners. The stadium overlooks the mouth of the Bilbao River, so even with the river flowing, its facade looks like a series of twisted white elements that give dynamism. The neutral color scheme and the contrast with the red color of the team improve the aesthetics both inside and outside. At night, when Bilbao arena is illuminated, it looks even more impressive. By the way, it’s the first football field with the world’s most recognized LEED certification for sustainable construction.

What about the home team? Is there anything interesting to consider about the Athletic Bilbao Football Club?

As you have caught, Bilbao Stadium is the home arena of Athletic Bilbao FC. A football team itself was founded in 1898 and for now is one of the big clubs that has never been relegated to the second division, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona. This great football tradition was set at the old Bilbao stadium, opened in 1913, as you can remember. After many renovations, the stadium has fulfilled its purpose, but this good tendency remains in these days.
Not to say a lot, mind that The Athletic Bilbao football club is also well-known by the following facts:

  • it’s one of the ten best participants of the highest Spanish football league – the First Division, also known as La Liga;
  • Athletic Bilbao have never been relegated from the first division during their stay in the league. Only two other clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, can boast of such an achievement;
  • only Basque men and women play in the football team.

The latest and upcoming events, held at Bilbao Stadium

As the Bilbao arena is accepting new and new matches today, here is the list of the latest and the upcoming ones.

Date Clubs Scoreline League
09/01 (17:30) Alaves – Athletic Bilbao  0-0 Primera
13/01 (19:00) Atletico Madrid – Athletic Bilbao  1-2 Super Bowl
16/01 (18:30) Athletic Bilbao – Real Madrid 0-2 Super Bowl
20/01 (20:30) Athletic Bilbao – Barcelona 3-2 Cup of Spain
23/01 (17:30) Rayo Vallecano – Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Primera
03/02 (20:00) Athletic Bilbao – Real Madrid Cup of Spain
07/02 (20:00) Athletic Bilbao – Español Primera
13/02 (19:00) Mallorca – Athletic Bilbao Primera
20/02 (19:00) Athletic Bilbao – Real Sociedad Primera
27/02 (19:00) Barcelona – Athletic Bilbao Primera

So is this San Mames Stadium worth paying attention too?

For sure, it is. The place is perfect for setting any football or sport events, moreover, the huge historical and architectural background is present. While visiting the city, don’t be lazy to come here. Also, you may come into a real museum dedicated to the so-called team. It will definitely be a fascinating experience!