Reale Arena (Estadio Anoeta)
|Clubs||Real Sociedad de Fútbol|
|Inauguration||13/08/1993 (Real Sociedad San Sebastian - Real Madrid)|
|Cost||€ 55.9 million (2017-2019)|
|Design||Izaskun Larzabal (2017-2019)|
|Address||Paseo de Anoeta 1, E-20014 San Sebastian|
Description: Reale Arena
Estadio Anoeta was built in the amara district to replace Campo de Fútbol Municipal de Atocha opened in 1913. Exactly 80 years later the new venue was ready for operation. First event ever – Junior European Championships in Athletics on July 29th. Two weeks later came the first football game between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.
The first club play all their home games from the very opening, though in recent years they've been sharing Anoeta with two French rugby teams, for which it is the most suitable venue. Anoeta is famous for its shape with stands of different height creating very dynamic impression. However, for many years atmosphere within the stadium was criticised, which is not uncommon in cases where fans are as far from the field as 40 meters (fron row behind goals).
They auditorium was covered and massive concrete supports create a very distinctive exterior appearence. In comparison, the roof itself was rather lightweight, formed by 3D steel truss spanning 15,000 m2.
Plans of Anoeta's reconstruction first surfaced in 2004, when the vision of Gipuzkoarena was created, foreseeing a 40,000+ football-only stadium with hotel, shops and offices attached. The plan fell through, as did following attempts to buy the facility from local authorities. Finally, in 2015 a new concept was brought to light, which saw Real Sociedad fund vast majority of the work, leaving remainder to public entities.
Upon commencement of the project in 2017, the budget was estimated to slightly exceed €47 million. Of the amount Real Sociedad would cover €33 million, the Basque Country follow with €10m and the Gipuzkoa province end with €4m. While the main contract stayed within this margin, it didn't include some features (seats, sound system and several other elements, along with stadium perimeter), which means the final price tag exceeds €50 million.
Created by renowned Basque architect Izaskun Larzabal, the concept on one hand leaves as much as possible of the old stadium, while transforming it into a modern football-specific venue. In the end only the upper side sections were left in place, along with their roof, while the remainder is either redeveloped or built from scratch. The challenge became to reconfigure the auditorium, while respecting the old stands' maximum height.
The field was thus lowered by 1.5m, both end stands were built from scratch, replacing demolished curves, while the lower sides were moved towards the field and extended thanks to the space available after field was lowered. The outcome is shortening distance from the field of play from 42 to 8.5 meters behing goals and from 25 to 10.5m on the sides.
At the same time capacity grew significantly, from 32,076 to 39,500. Initial estimates gave capacity at 42,300, but optimisation of hospitality areas and anticipation of some fans standing throughout games in the south end led to reduction. Exceeding 40,000 remains possible in the future with ease, should such need arise.
The roof is an interesting structure, utilising the very same system as for the 1993 structure, while also adding four primary trusses on top. The interlocking trusses are 150 long (across the stadium) and 190 meters long (along the stadium) and provide cover for new front rows. Each truss is 10 meters tall and all have been placed atop 25-meter concrete columns, built outside the stadium.
In order to create a uniform appearance of the old and new roofs, the new one also uses a lot of metal sheets for cover, but also incorporates ETFE. Translucent, white membrane covers the inner perimeter of the roof (5,800 m2). ETFE has also been used as new facade material, this time in sky blue (18,500 m2). With 25% translucency it leaves the public concourses well lit during daytime, while also providing cover from rain and wind, not uncommon in San Sebastian.
As if the project didn't already have a modest time frame of 2 years, added difficulty was the continued use of the stadium for matchdays. Demolition of the old south end began in May of 2017, while the first game was played in mid-September of 2019, leaving some areas unifnished. The south end was built during 2017/18 and the north one grew even faster, during the 2018/19 season. The busiest period was the summer of 2018, when the field was lowered and both side stands rebuilt. Even two serious accidents on site (worker and roof segment falling down, mobile crane collapsing on the field) didn't impact the schedule in significant manner.
Along with its reopening, Anoeta received the very first naming rights deal. Until 2025 the stadium is named Reale Arena and the insurance provider spent some €6 million on the contract.
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