San Mamés before a Europa League tie, 2009
|Full name||Estadio San Mamés|
|Field size||105 x 68 m|
|Built||20 January 1913|
|Opened||21 August 1913|
|Closed||5 June 2013|
|Demolished||6 June 2013|
|Construction cost||50.000 ptas|
|Architect||Manuel Maria Smith|
Basque Country national football team
San Mamés Stadium (Spanish: Estadio San Mamés [es'taðjo sam ma'mes]; also known as La Catedral [la kate'ð?al], "The Cathedral"), was a football stadium in Bilbao, Biscay, Spain. The stadium was the home of Athletic Bilbao, known as Los Leones de San Mamés-Bilboko lehoiak (The Lions of San Mamés). They are known as Los Leones because their stadium was built near a church called San Mamés (Saint Mammes). Mammes was an early Christian, born in A.D. 259, who was thrown to the lions by the Romans.
Opened in 1913, until its demolition it was Spain's oldest stadium (the oldest playing field being El Molinón) a characteristic that gave rise to the nickname La Catedral (The Cathedral), together with its revered status as one of the nation's most important venues, the devotion shown by the team's followers who attended the matches, the site's religious heritage and the fact that the city itself did not have a cathedral for some years afterwards (Santiago Cathedral did not receive the distinction until 1949). The nickname of the stadium is unconnected to the building that appears on the club crest, which is the Church of San Antón and its bridge, also featured on the Bilbao city coat of arms.
The first match at the stadium in August 1913 was a friendly between Athletic and Racing Club de Irún in a replay of the 1913 FEF Copa del Rey Final, which was the opening game of a triangular tournament also involving Shepherd's Bush F.C. The first goal was scored by the famous striker Pichichi. A 50th anniversary tournament of the same nature was heid in 1963, with Athletic defeating Fulham and Sporting CP in high-scoring matches.
The stadium was almost entirely rebuilt to host matches in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Athletic's opponents in friendly matches that year included the national teams of England and Poland, while in 1998 the visitors to San Mamés were World Cup holders Brazil marking Athletic's centenary. Six Spain matches were played at the stadium between 1921 and 1967. In contrast, the unofficial Basque Country team played 26 fixtures of various types at San Mamés between 1915 and 2011, and the Biscay team played there three times.
In March 2006, a project was approved to replace the stadium with a new and larger version, thereby increasing the stadium capacity to 53,000. The New San Mamés Stadium is built on the former site of the Bilbao International Trade Fair, adjacent to the current stadium. Construction began in April 2010, and after it was three quarters completed, Athletic Club moved into their new home and the original San Mamés was demolished.
The last Athletic match in La Liga at the stadium was a 0-1 loss to Levante on 26 May 2013; the goalscorer was Juanlu in stoppage time. Therefore the final Athletic scorer was Fernando Llorente in the previous home fixture against Mallorca. However, the last competitive game took place on 2 June 2013 when the reserve team Bilbao Athletic (who occasionally play important matches away from their small stadium at the club training ground) drew 2-2 with Levante's reserves in their promotion play-offs.
On 5 June 2013, Athletic played a farewell friendly match at the stadium to mark its closure, against a Biscay XI (a team comprising players born in the province based with other clubs). Athletic introduced several old heroes back onto the field as substitutes in the later stages: Orbaiz, Guerrero, Andrinua, Dani and Iribar, while others were also in attendance including 94-year-old Rafael Iriondo. Several of the Biscay players had begun their careers at Athletic, such as Expósito, Arriaga, Azkorra, Tarantino and Unai Medina, plus Beñat and Etxeita who had both already agreed to rejoin the club. Bizkaia won 1-0, with the last-ever goal being scored by Alain Arroyo. In the days following the match, demolition of the stands began. By the time of its official centenary date in August 2013, little remained of the old stadium as work intensified to clear the site and complete its replacement.
The iconic arch over the main stand of the stadium (which originally supported its roof) was preserved in the demolition and moved in several pieces to the club's training ground, Lezama, where it was installed at the side of the pitch used by the reserves and women's team.
The stadium was one of the venues of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, and held the following matches:
|Date||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Round||Attendance|
|1982-06-16||England||3-1||France||Group 4 (First Round)||44,172|
|1982-06-20||England||2-0||Czechoslovakia||Group 4 (First Round)||41,123|
|1982-06-25||England||1-0||Kuwait||Group 4 (First Round)||39,700|
|Concerts at San Mamés Stadium|
|04 June 2011||Shakira||The Sun Comes Out World Tour||25,000|