Spain: Wave of stadium upgrades sweeps through Iberian Peninsula

source:; author: Miguel Ciolczyk Garcia

Spain: Wave of stadium upgrades sweeps through Iberian Peninsula In the 21st century, stadiums, rather than results, are increasingly becoming the calling card of clubs. While battles for points are being fought on the pitch, a constant race for prestige is going on in the offices, hence almost 50% of Spain's top arenas will undergo modernisation in the next five years. Which ones? See for yourself!


World Cup (not for the first time) excuse for stadium expansion

News of the planned and ongoing renovations of venues is coming from Spain non-stop. The Camp Nou redevelopment in Barcelona and the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid are, of course, getting most of the attention, but there is no shortage of further news about plans to increase the number of seats at the Reale Arena , the metamorphosis of the Estadi Montilivi or the intentions to resume work on the Nou Mestalla.

Why are the Spaniards investing so heavily in their facilities? The obvious answer seems to be the World Cup, which will be held primarily on the Iberian Peninsula in 2030. The fierce battle between the candidates to host the World Cup has turned into a bidding war for the highest number of seats, the modernity of the facilities or the attractiveness of the location.

It is worth mentioning that Spain's biggest renovation boom to date occurred just prior to the 1982 World Cup. It was then that the Benito Villamarín, San Mamés Barria, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadiums, among others, underwent thorough serious modernisation.

Camp Nou visualisation© FC Barcelona

How to combine prestige, modernity and profitability?

However, it is hard not to notice that the stadiums of Real Madrid and Barcelona did not need redevelopment to be sure-fire contenders to host the biggest football event in the world, and their projects were conceived long before the Spanish candidacy was announced.

When planning the next 'facelift' projects for their venues, clubs have to consider the cost of the ventures in addition to the prestige. It has not been uncommon for grandiose plans to be hampered by a lack of funds, but this problem has been perfectly answered by the Americans, whose all-season stadium model is increasingly influencing European projects.

Mega-stadiums tailored on American model

The concept of using the stadium not only as a football arena, but also as a shopping centre, a venue for festivals, events and concerts or conferences is to be implemented at Spotify Camp Nou, which is expected to generate ⅔ of FC Barcelona's revenue when it opens in 2025.

Los Blancos president Florentino Perez has taken a similar approach and is confident that the investment of more than €1 billion will pay for itself within a few years and become "the largest leisure and entertainment centre in Europe". Santiago Bernabeu will even be home to... Mahou's brewery .

Here are the projects currently underway:

VenueClubCurrent capacityPlanned capacityCost
Santiago Bernabéu Real Madrid 81 044 84 744 €1 billion
Spotify Camp Nou FC Barcelona 99 354 105 953 €850 million
Nou Mestalla Valencia CF - 49 000 €340 million
Abanca Balaídos Celta Vigo 24 685 31 100 €50 million
Visit Mallorca Estadi RCD Mallorca 23 142 23 000 €21 million
Power Horse Stadium UD Almeria 15 000 25 000 €18 million
Estadi Ciutat de València Levante UD 26 354 26 000 €30 million

Will quality over capacity provide pass to world's top flight?

Back in May, the head of LaLiga's Clubs Bureau, Jaime Blanco, announced that around 40% of Primera and Segunda Division venues would undergo a 'transformation' over the next two to five years, with the aim of reaching new audiences, further increasing revenues and transforming football hubs into key points on the local map.

Jaime Blanco also noted that projects involving exponential increases in stadium capacity 'are a thing of the past', instead adjusting to reality by attracting audiences with quality of experience and a wide range of offerings beyond the match day. As he points out, this is a new approach and will certainly not be easy to implement.

In November, representatives of the Spanish clubs travelled to England, where they visited Emirates Stadium, Craven Cottage and Twickenham Stadium, among others, to explore different concepts and find inspiration for further improvements to their facilities. The fruitful trip concluded with the clubs presenting their own stadium upgrade projects.

Here is a summary of the most important projects:

ObiektKlubObecna pojemnośćDocelowa pojemnośćKoszt
Estadio Benito Villamarín Real Betis 60 721 60 379 €76 million
Abanca-Riazor Deportivo La Coruña 32 500 48 000 €62,5 million
Estadio La Rosaleda Málaga CF 30 044 45 000 €70-120 million
Estadio de Gran Canaria UD Las Palmas 32 400 44 462 €79 million
Estadio de La Romareda Real Zaragoza 33 608 42 500 €140 million
Elysium City Stadium - - 40 000 ?
Estadio de Mendizorrotza Deportivo Alavés 19 840 32 000 €50 million
Coliseum Getafe CF 16 500 19 500 ?
Estadio de A Malata Racing de Ferrol 12 042 12 042 €18 million
Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero Elche 31 388 31 388 max. €25 million
Estadio El Molinón Sporting Gijon 30 000 ? min. €150 million
(new venue) FC Andorra - ? ?
Estadio Heliodoro Rodríguez López CD Tenerife 22 824 ? ?
Estadio José Zorrilla Real Valladolid 27 618 27 618 €25 million

The Spanish are determined to bring about a revolution that would make football arenas more modern, but also more relevant. And while it's hard not to agree that an American-based model makes a lot more sense than 'weekend' stadiums, it's hard not to get the impression that at least a few projects are unnecessary and may run out of funds.