Estadio Jorge Luis Hirschi
|Clubs||Club Estudiantes de La Plata|
|Cost||$ 45 million|
|Design||Arq. Enrique Lombardi y Asoc|
|Contractor||Marín Construcciones S.A – Saddemi S.A UTE|
|Address||Av. 1 1150-1198, B1900 La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina|
Description: Estadio Jorge Luis Hirschi
The plot at Av. 1 and Calle 57 in La Plata is one of Argentina's prime addresses for football, among the oldest still in use. Carved out from the Paseo del Bosque municipal park in early 1906, this site was earmarked for the use of Estudiantes, just like a similar area for their rivals Gimnasia just 1 km away. The Pincharratas had played their opening game here on Christmas of 1907 and have, with some periodic exceptions, played here ever since.
Their stadium had changed numerous times over the decades, always retaining its robust, football-only layout, prompted by major spatial constraints. The idea of fundamentally restructuring the venue came in late 1990s. In 2002 construction was already ongoing behind the existing north-western end.
The municipality ordered a halt on the project for legal reasons, with less than one tier delivered. A procedural deadlock ensued until 2005, when the stadium was finally closed for good. Before they left, Estudiantes took on Gimnasia in late August and defeated the archrivals 1:0.
By 2007 demolition of the stadium followed, though the concrete structure raised in 2002 was retained intact. That portion was eventually incoporated into the evolving design of the north-western end's lower tier and today consists the oldest existing piece of the stadium. This grandstand was delivered first, structurally complete already in 2009. By 2011 it was joined by the massive single-tiered north-eastern side.
In 2014, once the future football field was relocated slightly to the north west, the third new grandstand was added behind south-eastern goal. But the most interesting part is the grandstand between Avenida 1 and the field. Estudiantes had a strip 10-meter wide and roughly 200-meter long on this side of the field. It was decided that a narrow and tall pavilion will be built, delivering balconies on top of one-another, providing room for skyboxes, premium seating and platforms for disabled fans. Also importantly, this stand becomes a wall protecting dense residential fabric from excess noise on matchdays.
This part of the new stadium took the longest to deliver, partly owing to limited funding. Indeed, the stadium's lengthy construction process was caused by the private funding by Estudiantes, who covered nearly half of the stadium from the sale of players and other revenue (some $20 out of 45 million), securing a loan for most of the remainder. During their hiatus they had to play in Quilmes, at Estadio Unico in La Plata and even, for a very brief time, at Gymnasia's home ground.
But when it came to equipment, installation and furnishings, the football club spared no effort to get ahead of other Argentinian teams. They became the first to fully digitise their stadium (CCTV, public WiFi, etc.), the first to install a hybrid playing field and the first to only use LED lighting throughout the stadium.
The latter point is part of a much greater scheme to make Uno (nickname derived from its address) the most environmentally sustainable stadium nationwide. In fact, Estudiantes even became the first club globally to secure EDGE certification for their new home, which was possible thanks to the use of photovoltaics, waste and energy management, reuse of rain water, integration of green areas within the venue and other elements.
At the same time the historical address also offers a very traditional stadium, welcoming to fans who prefer vast terraced sections, not just individual seats. Its outer form is formed by rough concrete, soften only by glazing, metal mesh and bright murals, as is tradition across Latin America. Importantly, upon reopening in 2019 the stadium still has two corners unfilled, which leaves space for expansion in the future, be it by corporate or regular seating.