San Mames Stadium (2013)
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San Mames Stadium 2013

San Mamés
Nuevo San Mamés
San Mames Barria
San Mames, Bilbao, Euskal Herria - Basque Country.jpg
Full nameSan Mamés
LocationBilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Coordinates43°15?51?N 2°57?01?W / 43.264284°N 2.950366°W / 43.264284; -2.950366
Public transitBilbao metro San Mamés
OwnerSan Mamés Barria, S.L.[1]
OperatorAthletic Bilbao
Record attendance(Football) 49,164 (Athletic vs Real Madrid, 18 March 2017)[3]
(Rugby) 52,282 (Leinster vs Racing 92, 12 May 2018)[4]
Field size105 m × 68 m (344 ft × 223 ft)
Broke ground26 May 2010
Built16 September 2013 (1st phase)
25 August 2014 (complete stadium)
Opened16 September 2013
Construction costEUR211 million
  • IDOM
  • César Azkarate
Project managerIDOM
Athletic Bilbao (2013-present)
Athletic Bilbao B (2015-2016)
Basque Country national football team (2013-present)

San Mamés (also known as Nuevo San Mamés or San Mames Barria) is an all-seater football stadium in Rafael Moreno Pitxitxi Kalea, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. Inaugurated on 16 September 2013, the stadium replaced the "old" San Mamés as the home of Athletic Bilbao. With a capacity of 53,289 seats, San Mamés is the 8th-largest stadium in Spain and the largest in the Basque Country.


Planning and construction

The first stages of planning occurred as early as 2004,[5] with initial contracts signed late on in 2006, after receiving approval to build in March 2006. The new stadium was to be built next to the existing San Mamés on land that was occupied until 2003 by the Bilbao International Trade Fair.

On 26 May 2010 at 12:00 the ground-breaking ceremony took place at San Mamés.[6] The event was attended by: the Lehendakari of the Basque Country, Patxi López; the Deputy-General of Biscay, José Luis Bilbao; the Mayor of Bilbao, Iñaki Azkuna; the Chairman of Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa, Mario Fernández; the President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Ángel María Villar and the President of Athletic Club, Fernando García Macua.

Old stadium demolished with new stadium rising behind, June 2013

In a symbolic display, a piece of turf and a brick from the facade were removed from the old stadium and carried to the adjacent construction site by a human chain including famous players Iribar, Larrazábal, Iturraspe and Muniain as well as members of the youth system, the women's team, the reserve team and its oldest and youngest registered supporters.[7]

Initially, three-quarters of the new stadium were built and then matches took place in it, while the old one was demolished to make room to complete the new arena.[5]

Construction in progress, June 2013

Despite the economical woes the country was going through at the time, especially the Basque people, 52.6% of the total EUR211 million (£178 million) cost of the stadium was paid by public institution - some by the Basque Government (EUR50m), some by the Bilbao City Council (EUR11m) and some by the Biscay Provincial Council (EUR50m including land), as well as Athletic (EUR50m including land) and BBK/Kutxabank (EUR50m), on the proviso that the stadium would include facilities for use by the public such as a sports centre.[8] It had been believed that the European Commission were investigating this use of public funds for any possible inpropriety in the deal, but in late 2013 it was confirmed by Joaquín Almunia, the commissioner for competition at the time (and an Athletic supporter from Bilbao), that no such case was being pursued.[9]

Initial opening

Partially completed, December 2013

San Mamés was inaugurated on 16 September 2013, 102 days after the final game at the old stadium. At that time the official capacity of the partially completed arena was 35,686.[10] The first match was a league match played at 22:00 between the hosts Athletic Club and Celta Vigo, which the local team won 3-2. A crowd of 33,000 was in attendance.[11] The distinction of being the first ever goalscorer at the stadium went to Celta's Charles, while the first Athletic scorer was Mikel San José a few minutes later. Prior to the match, the captains of each of the club's age group teams, club captain Carlos Gurpegui and president Josu Urrutia took part in a short presentation accompanied by a traditional Aurresku dance.[12]

The Celta match was Athletic's second home fixture of that season. As the new stadium was not quite ready, their opening game of the campaign (a 2-0 win over Osasuna) was played at Anoeta in Donostia-San Sebastián, home of rivals Real Sociedad.[13][14][15]


Athletic in action, 2015

The first match in the stadium under its full capacity was a Champions League playoff tie against Napoli on 27 August 2014, attended by 49,017. Athletic won 3-1 to progress to the group stage of the competition.[16]

Roof extension

View up to the extended roof (2017)

Since the stadium's opening, supporters had frequently voiced their displeasure at the roof, which did not protect all seats from Bilbao's frequently rainy conditions. Towards the end of the 2015-16 season, throughout the summer break and at the outset of 2016-17, extensions were added to the roof at a cost of EUR12.6 million, estimated to increase the effectiveness against wet weather by 70%.[17][5] Finally, on 20 November 2016 the works were completed and the roof extension was fully functional in the 1-0 victory against Villarreal CF in a La Liga match.[18][19] The lack of sunlight onto the pitch from the roof is offset by internal lighting modules which maintain the condition and growth of the turf, a system used in other Spanish stadiums.[20]

Stadium features

The stadium facade by daylight
The facade at night, illuminated

The stadium is equipped with a sophisticated lighting system on its exterior which can be programmed to illuminate the hundreds of panels on its facade (which by day are white) in solid colours, or to show flashing or moving graphics (such as when a goal is scored, or the UEFA Champions League star-ball motif when Athletic qualified for that competition). It has similarities in this respect with the Allianz Arena in Munich.[20][21][22]

It is also situated closer to the Nervión than its predecessor, overlooking the river from a high bank. Its elevated position presents a striking image of the stadium, particularly when illuminated.[5]

External video screen
View looking west along the Pozas towards the screen, 2014

Since 2015 the stadium has also featured a giant external video screen (15.5m X 9.8m), placed in a prominent position at the same point where the original San Mamés featured a large club crest.[23] It looks onto the Pozas, a street running to the stadium from the heart of the city which is a popular walking route for fans on matchdays and is lined with Athletic-themed bars.

It is a club tradition for captains of teams visiting the Athletic ground for the first time pay homage to the fallen idol of its early years, Pichichi, by leaving a bouquet of flowers at a bust of the player. In the old stadium, this was situated near the directors' box. Despite concerns that this iconic feature might not be accommodated at the new stadium,[24] a suitable spot was identified at the entrance to the players' tunnel, allowing the tradition to continue at the new location from 2013 onwards.[25]

In August 2017, Athletic opened their new club museum at the stadium.[26][27] The feature had been absent since the closure of the old stadium over four years earlier.[28] Among the prominent features of the museum is a stuffed lion (the club nickname) 'won' from the president of Deportivo Alavés in 1984 after he lost a bet with the Athletic directors that the club would not be able to repeat their 1982-83 La Liga win the following season.[29]

Special events and information

On 19 September 2014, San Mamés was selected as one of the 13 venues to host matches at UEFA Euro 2020. It will host three group stage matches and one Round of 16 match in the tournament.[30]Spain will play all their group matches at the stadium, the first time the national team has played in the Basque Country for more than 50 years (the old San Mamés hosted six games between 1921 and 1967[31] and a single fixture was played in San Sebastián in 1923).[32] In contrast, the new San Mamés was the venue for three friendly fixtures played by the unofficial Basque Country team between 2013 and 2016.

A 'beam back' event was held at the stadium in May 2015 for the 2015 Copa del Rey Final for fans who could not attend the game in Barcelona, with giant video screens installed on the pitch that the spectators could view from the stands.

On 5 November 2015, San Mamés was awarded as the Sports Building of the Year in the World Architecture Festival held in Singapore.[33]

Card stunt at the rugby finals, May 2018

In 2017 there was a realistic possibility that the stadium could host the Copa del Rey final for the first time after Deportivo Alavés from nearby Vitoria-Gasteiz qualified for the showpiece game to face FC Barcelona. However, the stadium's controlling agency announced that it would not be feasible to accommodate the final on 27 May due to holding a Guns N' Roses concert on 30 May.[34] The Copa final was subsequently assigned to the Vicente Calderón Stadium in Madrid, the 14th time that venue has hosted the final but significant due to it being one of the last matches prior to its replacement by the rebuilt Estadio Metropolitano.

The stadium hosted the 2018 finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup and Champions Cup. The match between Leinster and Racing 92 set the stadium's single-game attendance record at 52,282.[4][35]

The stadium hosted a MTV World Stage concert headlined by Berri Txarrak, Muse and Crystal Fighters on 3 November 2018, as part of the events related to the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards being held in Bilbao.[36]

On 30 January 2019, San Mamés hosted a Copa de la Reina match between Athletic Bilbao and Atlético Madrid that beat the Spanish attendance record for a women's football match with 48,121 spectators.[37][38]

The neutralised start of stage 13 in the 2019 Vuelta a España included a lap of the pitch by the race director's car followed by the riders. Although a large crowd had gathered outside the stadium, the public were not allowed inside to view the event. Two cyclists (Edward Theuns and Pierre Latour) dismounted to mime taking a penalty. A similar event had preceded stage 5 of the 2017 Tour of the Basque Country.[39]

UEFA Euro 2020

The stadium was chosen as one of the venues of the UEFA Euro 2020 held in cities across Europe, and will host the following matches:

Date Team #1 Res. Team #2 Round Attendance
14 June 2021 Spain  -  Sweden Group E
19 June 2021 Spain  -  Poland Group E
23 June 2021 TBC -  Spain Group E
27 June 2021 TBC - TBC Round of 16


Concerts at San Mamés Stadium
Date Artist Tour Attendance
30 May 2017 Guns N' Roses Not in This Lifetime... Tour 27,955


The stadium is well served by public transport: it is located across the street from the city's Termibus regional bus station, and has a dedicated station - San Mamés (Metro Bilbao) which links the Bilbao tram, metro/underground and commuter rail networks. The major AP-8 road is also nearby. The stadium is also within a reasonable walking distance from most areas of the city centre, e.g. approximately 2 km from Casco Viejo (the old town).


  1. ^ Athletic Club, Basque Government, Biscay Provincial Council and BBK Bank
  2. ^ UEFA EURO 2020 Evaluation Report
  3. ^ "Athletic - Real Madrid". La Liga. 18 March 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Leinster lift fourth European Cup after 15-12 victory over Racing 92". 12 May 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d A new Cathedral: Athletic Club's move to a new San Mamés, Simon Lloyd,
  6. ^ Sinnott, John (11 May 2011). "Homage to San Mames". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "Work begins on the San Mames Barria". Irekia Euskadi. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ "¿Cómo se financió San Mames Barria?" [How is San Mamés Barria financed?] (in Spanish). EITB. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "European Commission confusion over Athletic Bilbao's stadium deal under investigation". The Independent. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "San Mamés se abre al mundo" [San Mamés opens to the world]. Marca (in Spanish). 16 September 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "Partido Athletic - Celta en directo, en vivo" (in Spanish). LaLiga. 16 September 2013.
  12. ^ ""Seremos recordados", dice Mikel San José, autor del primer gol en el nuevo San Mamés" ["We shall be remembered", says Mikel San José, author of first goal in the new San Mamés]. Canal Athletic. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "20.000 rojiblancos apoyarán al Athletic en Anoeta" [20,000 red-and-whites will support Athletic in Anoeta] (in Spanish). EITB. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ "Una 'mudanza' muy rentable" [A very profitable move']. Marca (in Spanish). 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ "El Athletic de Bilbao gana 2-0 a Osasuna en Anoeta" [Athletic Bilbao wins 2-0 against Osasuna at Anoeta]. La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 24 August 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ "Aduriz relishing Athletic's group stage adventure". 28 August 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "El derbi bautiza la cubierta de San Mamés" [The derby will be the baptism for San Mamés roof] (in Spanish). Deia. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ "Una victoria de esas que valen por dos" (in Spanish). El Desmarque. 20 November 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ @athletic (20 November 2016). "Espectacular vista aérea de San Mamés" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ a b "Sistema de iluminación arquitectónica de fachada de última generación para San Mamés" [State-of-the-art architectural lighting system for San Mamés] (in Spanish). video). 28 February 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ "San Mamés se ilumina" [San Mamés lights up]. Marca (in Spanish). 12 February 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ "El nuevo San Mamés ya luce en la noche bilbaína" [The new San Mamés lights up the Bilbao night]. Marca (with video) (in Spanish). 21 August 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ "La pantalla exterior de San Mamés, a escena" [The exterior screen of San Mamés, on stage] (in Spanish). El Correo. 14 August 2015. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ "El busto de Pichichi no encuentra su sitio en el nuevo San Mamés" [Pichichi's bust can not find its place at the new San Mamés]. ABC (in Spanish). 11 September 2013. Retrieved 2016.
  25. ^ "El Genk homenajea a Pichichi" [Genk pays homage to Pichichi]. El Correo (in Spanish). 3 November 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ "Athletic Club museum inauguration". Athletic Bilbao. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ "Athletic Club museum inaugurated". Athletic Bilbao. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ "Athletic Club Museum [at old San Mames]". Basque Country Tourism. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ The Museum lion, Athletic Bilbao, 28 June 2018
  30. ^ 2020 hosts decided,
  31. ^ International football matches hosted by Estadio de San Mamés, Bilbao,
  32. ^ International football matches hosted by Estadio Municipal de Atocha, San Sebastián,
  33. ^ "San Mamés scores top architecture prize". Marca. 11 November 2015. Retrieved 2016.
  34. ^ "San Mamés no albergará la final de la Copa del Rey" [San Mamés will not host the final of the Copa del Rey] (in Spanish). El Periódico. 10 February 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  35. ^ "Rugby Union: Champions Cup final heading to Bilbao in 2018". Yahoo! News. Omnisport. Retrieved 2017.
  36. ^ "Muse and Crystal Fighters Will Headline MTV Music Week in Bilbao". MTV. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  37. ^ "Récord del fútbol femenino español: 48.121 espectadores en San Mamés" [Record for Spanish women's football: 48,121 spectators at San Mamés]. El Mundo. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  38. ^ "Despite the defeat, attendance record in San Mamés". Athletic Bilbao. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  39. ^ "The 13th stage of La Vuelta 19 will depart from San Mamés". La Vuelta.

External links

Coordinates: 43°15?51?N 2°57?01?W / 43.264284°N 2.950366°W / 43.264284; -2.950366

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