Estadio George Lewis Capwell
|64 (VIP seats)|
|8,000+ (in 450 boxes) (Business seats)|
|395 (Press seats)|
|Construction||24.07.1943 – 1945|
|Renovations||1989-1991, 1999, 2005-2006, 2015-2017|
|Cost||2m Sucre (1943), 1,8bln sucre (1989), $28 million (2015-2017)|
|Design||Ricardo Mórtola di Puglia, Luis Valero Brando (1989), Vicente Estrada (2015-2017)|
|Address||General Gómez 1312 y Av. Quito, Guayaquil, Ecuador|
Description: Estadio Capwell
The Guayaquil municipality was granted permission to donate a plot to Emelec in 1942. The club, then just 13 years in operation, was initiated by American George Lewis Capwell who is also responsible for establishing the stadium. Although it is worth mentioning football wasn’t his priority. Main discipline to be played at the square-shaped ground was supposed to be baseball.
Cornerstone was installed in July 1943 and construction started. Total cost was estimated at 2m sucre, a significant amount at that time. First baseball game took place in October 1945 and in December the football side played their first fixture, soon becoming the most important section of Emelec. First local championship came in 1946 and a year later Copa America was hosted by Ecuador, partly at this ground.
With years passing by the venue started to dilapidate in 1970’s resulting in two attempts to sell it. Both, first in 1978 and second in 1982, were blocked by supporters, municipality and journalists. Estadio Capwell remained at its very modest location, deep in the residential areas of Guayaquil. In 1989-1991 a thorough renovation was carried out with main result being new southern stand that hosts 150 skyboxes, a number still rare at that time.
Another new stand came in 1999. A double-tiered stand with audience divided by 32 skyboxes was built in the East. It was supposed to be another step in bringing the ground to 45,000, but proved to be last for years. Finally breakthrough came in 2005-2006 with new west stand that can hold up to 8,000 standing fans, mostly used by a fanatic fraction called Boca del Pozo (meaning “Cap of the well” = Capwell).
The most extensive and costly upgrades to date took place in 2015-2017 and included all stands. When compared with extent of works, the price tag seems very modest, even despite cost increase from initial $22 million to almost $30 million in the end.
Partly financed through loan from Banco del Pacifico (naming rights partner) and partly through sale of new boxes in advance, the project brought Estadio Capwell a monumental new main grandstand. The structure provides roughly 200 private boxes (between 8 and 16 seats each) spread across 5 levels. There are also two tiers of regular seating and on top of all that, hovering almost vertically 35 meters above the field, the 8th floor comprises press seats and commentator cabins.
This isn't the highest point of the stadium, though. Four steel towers were built in each corner to secure safe vertical crowd circulation and the two northern corners dominate the skyline at 41 meters. They host not only 7 elevators but also 30 additional skyboxes. In total the stadium boasts over 450 boxes holding over 8,000 people.
Altogether between 2015 and 2017 capacity grew from under 24,000 to just over 40,000. Works weren't limited to the new main grandstand or towers, they covered 20,000 m2 of floor space, included replacement of roofs above all sections of the stadium and, eventually, also brand new facade cladding. The outer wrap was the last to get installed as works were phased in order to allow constant use of the stadium.
Brand new floodlighting system was also created, as well as external illumination commissioned from Philips. Overall a lot of the project was imported, to name just the new field (USA), seats (Spain) and composite cladding (Germany) to create a more uniform and modern stadium. While still extremely constrained spatially, it now holds some cars under ground.
Ecuador: Capwell's illumination a landmark in domestic football
Even though only two most-exposed sides of Estadio Capwell are illuminated, installation helped the unique stadium become a major landmark and serves as means to boost commercial revenue for Emelec.
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