Some interesting facts about football stadiums
One of the great things about football, apart from the players and the passion generated by the game, are the impressive clubs and national football stadiums. In Spain, throughout Europe and worldwide there have been many recent stadium modernisations and new constructions carried out in recent years which give football fans huge comfort and benefits unheard of until recently. In this article we will share with you interesting facts about some of the most renowned football stadiums in the world, the biggest, the most modern as well as some of the more weird and wonderful places where people gather to watch football.
Top 3 stadiums by capacity
The world’s largest stadium in terms of capacity is one which may surprise you as it’s located in North Korea and is called the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in Pyongyang. It has capacity for 150,000 spectators and opened in 1989. It is home to matches played by the North Korean team, whose prime achievement in recent years was getting to play in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a tournament which of course has happy memories for the Spanish team.
The second highest capacity stadium is known throughout the world – it is the famous Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona. Over time the ground has seen a number of renovations, enabling increases in seat
capacity, which now stands at 99,354. This number is planned to rise to 105,000 by the year 2021, according to an announcement by Barcelona’s President at the beginning of the year. Camp Nou was refurbished before the 1982 World Cup in Spain, when its capacity rose to 120,000.
Another famous stadium, and the one which occupies third place in the stadium capacity rankings, is the Azteca in Mexico City which hosted the World Cup Finals of 1970 and 1986. It was the Aztec Stadium where Diego Maradona scored the so-called ‘Goal of the Century’ against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter finals. Its current capacity is 95,500, but since it was built in 1966 there have been a number of refurbishments and in one Mexico vs Brazil match it accommodated as many as 119,000 fans. Interestingly the iconic Maradona goal was watched by 114,580 lucky spectators, who had a fantastic story to tell the rest of their lives. Currently the Azteca Stadium is home to the Club America football team.
More modern stadiums
In recent years, many big teams have left their traditional home stadiums for new and often quite revolutionary grounds. Notable examples are Bayern Munich and Athletic Bilbao. The German team moved to a new home base at the Allianz Arena, a cauldron-shaped stadium which has provided a much improved atmosphere compared to that of their previous ground, the Olympic Stadium in Munich. The Allianz Arena contains all the latest innovations: the entrance to the underground dressing rooms disappears into the ground, the stands have heating and air conditioning and there are fantastic facilities for disabled fans, to name but a few innovations. However, the most stand out aspect is the external facade; constructed in LED light panels which illuminate the outside of the stadium in the colours of Bayern or of the German team when there is an international match being played. The stadium was inaugurated before the Germany World Cup in 2006 and it has already hosted a Champions League final, that of 2012, when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties. With a 77,500 capacity, the Allianz Arena is the biggest stadium in Germany.
Athletic Bilbao, mentioned above, previously had their home at the old San Mamés stadium, famous throughout Europe and overflowing with mementos of past footballing triumphs displayed on its walls. In 2013, the Basque team left behind years of history and moved to the New San Mamés Stadium, only a short distance from their old home. In the first season that the team played at the new San Mamés one of the stands behind the goals was still unfinished, this was completed in 2014 therefore putting the finishing touches to Athletic Bilbao’s new home.
The New San Mamés represents the change of direction in the construction of new stadia. In 2015 it was recognised at the World Architecture Festival, the ‘Oscars’ of the architecture world, as the best newly constructed sports stadium in the world and UEFA has chosen it as one of the venues for the 2020 Euro championship, which will be celebrated in a number of grounds throughout Europe. The architect behind this fantastic design, which can seat 53,289 spectators, is César Azcárate, who created a façade similar to the Allianz Arena, using a format of screen panels with lights which spectacularly illuminate the venue.
Also worth highlighting, among the modern stadiums, is the Veltins Arena of Schalke 04, which is located on a moveable base. This innovative design enables the playing surface to slide out to form an outside pitch. As well as this it has a roof which covers the whole playing surface and a gigantic scoreboard right above the centre circle, similar to the style of NBA venues. The Schalke ground was inaugurated in 2006 for the Germany World Cup and is classed by UEFA as an “Elite Stadium”.
The strangest stadiums
To construct a football stadium, you need a lot of space and it’s often necessary to economise on this space in order not to risk interfering with the harmony of the land where the stadium is going to be built. Below we’re going to describe some stadiums where the construction has been managed with this aim and which have resulted in jaw-dropping locations or designs.
Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium (Switzerland)
The Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium was built right in the middle of the Alps. To be more specific it’s located right on the edge of the mountains near the Swiss town of Zermatt. The ground is 2,000 metres above sea level and can only be reached by cable car. There’s certain to be a lot of footballs getting kicked out of the stadium and lost in the mountains below….
The Floating Stadium (Singapore)
Seeing this stadium confirms that football really has arrived at the four corners of the earth. Singapore is home to The Floating Stadium which, as its name suggests, is a football ground which actually floats on the sea. The venue opened in 2007 and was a venue for the Youth Olympic Games in 2010. It has capacity for 30,000 fans who watch the action from stands located only on one side of the field, behind the three structures which connect the floating playing surface with the land.
Municipal Stadium of Braga (Portugal)
Another unusual football ground is the Municipal Stadium of Braga, one of the venues used when Portugal played host to the Euros in 2004. This venue only has two lateral stands, but its attractive and fascinating feature is that it is built against the side of the quarry from which the granite to build the stadium was obtained. This great idea came from the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura who, thanks to his creation won the Pritzker prize for architecture in 2011. In spite of having only two stand sections, the stadium can accommodate 30,154 spectators.