Portugal: Famous Braga stadium at risk from mayor's idea?

source: StadiumDB.com; author: Miguel Ciolczyk Garcia

Portugal: Famous Braga stadium at risk from mayor's idea? Just as the SC Braga stadium was not cheap to build, it is not cheap to maintain. Meanwhile, the city authorities cannot count on the club to finance the facility, so they have decided to find an alternative solution, but one that is causing concern.


An arena cut in the rock does not give the city peace of mind

Built for EURO 2004, Estádio Municipal de Braga owes its nickname to its location deep within a former quarry. Eduardo Souto de Mora's design not only earned the venue the title of the strangest stadium in the world, but also a not inconsiderable construction cost of €200 million. Its construction earned the architect the Pritzker Prize and the city a hard nut to crack.

The project was even praised by US President Barack Obama, but, by the architect's own admission, the praise was rather international, and it still receives criticism from his compatriots for its appearance, lack of lifts and coldness due to the missing wind protection. Back in 2020, SC Braga presented a vision for a new stadium to help free themselves from A Pedreira, but this was blocked by the city.

Estádio Municipal de Braga © Leon L (cc: by)

Paris Saint-Germain a model for Braga's mayor

In December, mayor Fernando Rio announced that the city would sell the stadium for a "reasonable sum", highlighting that PSG had leased the Parc des Princes for "around €30m", making it clear that he expected FC Braga to be the buyer. The club, on the other hand, is not thrilled, as it has so far paid a symbolic... €500 per month for the stadium rental.

The upkeep of the facility including staff has long even taken up, according to the mayor, 15% of the city budget (!). Now he is hoping to get rid of the burden and return at least part of the funds. The measure has been criticised by the socialists in opposition, who point out that A Pedreira is the only building in Portugal with an 'architectural Nobel' in the 21st century, so it should be an attraction and a symbol of the city, not a source of shame.

Estádio Municipal de Braga © Leon L (cc: by)

An east wind in the sale talks

Socialist councillor Artur Feio values the facility at €15 million and accuses the Municipality of Braga of selling a €200,000 stake in Sporting Clube de Braga Futebol SAD for an "incomprehensible, symbolic value". The club currently owns 37% of the shares, but Qatar Sports Investment, owner of PSG, has stepped in, increasing its stake to almost 30%. This has led to rumours of a possible buyout of the stadium by Qatar-owned QSI.

Meanwhile, SC Braga are having a good period. From 4th place in the table, it is fighting to win the league and, at the same time, it will face Karabakh in the Europa League despite failing to advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League from a difficult Group C (Real Madrid, Napoli, Union Berlin). The last thing it needs is further turmoil against an already problematic stadium.

Estádio Municipal de Braga © Leon L (cc: by)