HKS mirrors Mexican culture in Club León home



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Mexico construction start of Estadio Leon most probably in 2022 Image: HKS

HKS is an interdisciplinary global design firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas in the United States. It is a team beyond architects and interior designers to include researchers, urban designers, nurses, anthropologists, graphic designers, and more. HKS views design as a process of discovery as they strive to create a more resilient future.

Since 2002, HKS Mexico City has provided its Latin American clients and collaborators with a local architecture, design and planning team. The firm’s portfolio has grown to include interiors, corporate, mixed-use, hospitality, and sports projects.

HKS is the architect of the new Estadio León – a proposed stadium in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, the construction of which is expected to start in 2022. The Club León football team is expected to make this their home stadium upon its proposed completion in 2024. Its expected capacity is 35,000.

Club León, also known as León, is a Mexican professional football club based in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, which competes in the Liga MX, the top flight of Mexican football. Their present residence is the León Stadium in León, Mexico, and boasts a capacity of 27,423.

Ricardo Rondon, Sports & Venues Director, HKS, Mexico, shares details about the proposed stadium in an exclusive chat with ‘Coliseum’.

Mark A. Williams, Global Director of Venues, HKS, US, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

Ricardo Rondon shared that Grupo Pachuca, parent company of the top-flight Club León, organized a design competition way back in the year 2018 to design Club León’s planned venue – New Leon Stadium. Six major players took part in the design contest and HKS Mexico landed the deal to design the facility thus scripting the biggest success story for the company’s Mexican branch.

The Manhattan Construction Company was in charge of the whole bidding process, design and pre-construction work.

Grupo Pachuca operates as a professional football club. The company revenue comes from matchday gate receipts, catering and the exploitation of media rights, and commercial activities. Grupo Pachuca offers its services in Mexico.

There was a contest which the Bachuca group organized to design a new stadium in León.
 

New Leon Stadium

The stadium will sit in the center of Mexico, four-hour drive from Mexico City. The new stadium will be located a little bit to the North from the club’s present home – León Stadium.

Grupo Pachuca recently bought the club as the top-notch was facing eviction threat from the City.
 

Why eviction?

Estadio León has been the club’s home since it opened in March 1967, but has been owned since the 1990s by Roberto Zermeño, a former President of the team. In 2000, Zermeño reached an agreement with the Municipality of León through which it would manage the stadium for 10 years before it reverted to become his property.

However, the agreement collapsed in 2008 beginning a series of legal battles that ended in October 2020 with Zermeño taking over the reins of the stadium. This was set to see Club León move to play in the City of Aguascalientes in Mexico, before the above deal struck recently between Grupo Pachuca and Zermeño in which the former acquired the club. Thus, the club got a fresh lease of life.

Stated Rondon, “With Grupo Pachuca acquiring the club, there seems to be hope on the horizon though Latin America is still grappling with COVID-19.”
 

Stadium spot

The new home of the ‘La Fiera’ will sit in a lot which was previously a plantation area in León, Mexico. The request for proposal (RFP) comprises a hotel that looks out to the field and a mall.

A request for proposal is a document that solicits proposal, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service, or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.

Remarked Rondon, “Since we are very well acquainted with the market of Latin America, we knew that going by the features which the stadium will boast, it will cost a bomb. So, we decided to carry out an in-depth study of the local construction rules. Apart from the hotel component of the facility, the mall will spread over 25,000 square meters of space.”

Rondon informed that the parking lot of the proposed stadium will spread over 11,000 square meters and it will also come armed with dressing rooms and Press areas. The structure will also boast a second level parking spot for 7,500 vehicles. The next level will be the plaza level which will open up to the street in the North and on it will be housed the hotel on a verdant plot.

The spiffy facility will come with club offices, business center, a clinic, football university, and 16,000 seats at the lower bleachers. A hall of fame is also being planned as he stated, “a lot of money is being pumped into the planned venue”. The price tag of the new stadium stands at MXN 2 bn/mld.

In keeping with Mexican customs, 93 box seats have been planned for the VIP guests. Offices, supermarket and food courts will also adorn the stadium to provide fans an enriching experience as added attractions in a sports venue is what attracts the millennial to a facility today. The adornments should be such that fans get attracted to a stadium just like moths to a flame.

Observed Rondon, “A lot of bells and whistles are being planned to be put in the venue so that it triggers the inflow of people and proves to be a destination par excellence.”

Few of the box seats will double up as offices where one can meet with their clients. A business center will also come up and some of the box seats will be built with only the purpose of watching the pitch action.

Affirmed Rondon, “Our design has varied options and will leave the client spoilt for choice. There will also be meeting rooms and coworking spaces.”

At the club level, there will be 300 seats for the Club Zone which will also enjoy a restaurant. To best mirror the Mexican culture and traditions, the arena will boast high box seats – 91 box seats at Level 1, 92 box seats at Level 2 and 123 box seats at Level 3. At the corridor level will be lodged the restrooms and a spread will be laid out for the 36,000 fans throughout the stadium.

Added Rondon, “Here we have 115,000 square meters exclusive of the roof and the façade of the stadium. So, we have two underground levels – service level, dressing room, parking lots, box seat levels, club level, three more levels of box seats, and the bleachers.”
 

Major features:

  • Hotel;
  • Clinic;
  • Chapel;
  • School;
  • Commercial space;
  • Stadium per se; and
  • The Metro station.

 
The Metro station will be so built so that it gets integrated to the ingress point of the arena. There will also be spaces in the stadium where people can hang out together and a bicycle trail will come up which is going to interconnect to both sides of the stadium thus promoting continuous use of the venue.

The plush facility will come armed with a 134-room hotel out of which 84 rooms will open up to either the stadium or the soccer field as Rondon maintained, “We have designed the hotel as such that it will trigger a lot of economic activity”.

Rondon emphasized that the façade of the stadium has been designed as such so that it not only demonstrates the Mexican culture but also pays ode to the City’s longstanding leather tanning industry. Thin strips of brown-colored metal will embellish the stadium, resembling pieces of leather left to dry – “We have vertical panes that support this arrangement and give movement and fluidity to the façade. Some part is painted green because that is the color of the soccer team. When visitors walk in, they will see the movement of colors. A huge part of the arena will be shaded and we have also provided for the translucent polymer which has great resistance to heat, ultra violet rays and pollution. The panes have been designed to protect the spectators from the weather elements and also allow sunlight to come in to heat the soccer field. This is all about 34,000 additional yards of roofing.”

Rondon concluded by stating that COVID-19 which has hit Latin America hard has led to the inordinate delay in the project taking off but he is hopeful that the proposed facility will get off the ground in the early part of 2024 and ‘The Wild Beast’ can flex their football muscle even more in their chic home.

In total, the complex is expected to cover over 124,000 m2 as it will be replete with a lot of extra features to provide the ultimate experience to fans not only on gamedays but throughout the year and thus prove to be a destination unto itself.

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