Osasuna jump on stadium revamp bandwagon

Video: Club Atlético Osasuna (YouTube)

The Spanish football team Club Atlético Osasuna will loosen their purse strings more than what was the planned expenditure to build a new roof for the complete El Sadar ground and also create additional commercial space to make it feasible to use the facility almost the whole year through.

Club Atlético Osasuna is a Spanish football team based in Pamplona, Navarre, Spain. Founded on November 17, 1920, the club currently plays in La Liga, holding home games at the 18,375-capacity El Sadar Stadium in Spain which is mostly employed for football matches.

La Liga is the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football league system.

Minerva Santana, Director of Innovation, La Liga, Spain, will be one of the Speakers at the Coliseum Summit EUROPE to be held at Ascot Racecourse, UK, on September 2-3, 2020.

Osasuna Stadium June 2020Image: CA Osasuna

Several La Liga clubs have been working to reconfigure or come up with new stadiums in recent years, creating avant-garde venues that offer the best in hospitality, commerce and match experience.

Osasuna is the latest to jump on the bandwagon to embark on a redecoration project, improving its El Sadar ground so that it boasts state-of-the-art facilities and features. The stadium is trying to take a page out of the books of new facilities like Villarreal’s Estadio de la Cerámica, Real Sociedad’s Reale Arena or the plush stadia like Atlético Madrid’s Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, RCD Espanyol de Barcelona’s RCDE Stadium and Athletic Club’s San Mamés. These are all chic and spiffy stadiums.

Given that CA Osasuna belongs to its members, it is a unique club in the sense that it is very transparent in its functioning and provides fans with an active and fundamental role in how it is operated. They were asked to vote for their preferred stadium redevelopment plan and, from the five proposals available, opted for the plans titled ‘the Red Wall’. Following through with this plan, the club from the Navarra region of Spain has made a multi-million investment to boost the capacity of the venue and leave fans exultant.

During these renovation works at the stadium, some unique opportunities arose. Although it was not contained in the original blueprints, the chance to build one complete roof that covered all the stands emerged.

Explained Santi Zuza, CA Osasuna’s Communications Director, “Redeveloping an old stadium is more complicated than building a new one, so, as the works progress it’s possible to come across issues that need to be solved.”

Osasuna Stadium June 2020 Liga Nacional de Fútbol ProfesionalImage: CA Osasuna

Further explaining the changes to the plans for the roof, Zuza stated, “The plan was to change the roof on three of the four sides of the stadium and to leave the roof as it currently is on the other side. But when works began we found out that the state of that area was worse than we thought and that the works we had planned were not going to be enough.”

Zuza informed, “Various options were considered throughout the year and finally it was decided that if we did not carry out a complete change of the roof we were going to generate more problems. So, instead of having one old part of roof and three new parts, which were not going to be connected, the board approved plans to build one roof for the whole stadium.”

Apart from the new roof, the club will add a large amount of space on the ground floor for commercial opportunities – commercial spaces for sporting activity and catering. As Zuza confirmed, “The chosen stadium project has three levels, one at street level, another five meters up and another 12 meters up. The fans will enter by going up the stairs and in through one of the upper levels. As such, the entire lower floor will be available for commercial outlets that could previously only be located in two corners of the ground. Currently, there are two restaurants here, which will also be expanded.”

CA Osasuna earlier enjoyed 1,400 square meters of commercial space, but has now created an additional 2,000 square meters. The plan is to use these spaces seven days in a week and not just when matches are played. To lure customers, they will face out onto the street on three of the four sides of the ground.

Regarding the stores themselves, CA Osasuna’s plan is to focus on catering and sporting offerings. A gym could also be set up, while the official club store will be expanded.

Considering the fact that the stadium sits near the Navarra Arena, the main venue for concerts in the city of Pamplona, this will give the club an edge, as Zuza pointed out, “The commercial spaces could be interesting for the days of concerts or other events in the arena.”

New seating with standing section

Inside El Sadar, new seats will be put up all around the arena, which was not a part of the original blueprint. The original masterplan was to only install new seats in the section of the stadium where the capacity was being extended, but after being promoted to La Liga Santander at the end of the 2018-19 seasons, the club decided to bring about modifications.

Zuza added, “The Board of Directors felt that all season ticket holders should notice the improvement of the facilities and not just the 6,000 spectators that will be sitting in the new areas. It will involve an outlay of approximately €1M to replace some 17,000 seats.”

In addition to this, around 1,300 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)-approved rail seats will be set up across 12 rows in the south stand to create a standing section that will galvanize the atmosphere, creating the ‘Red Wall’ that the stadium plans refer to.

Zuza further added, “The inclination of this stand was going to be a little different from the others. But now all sides will be the same, with 12 uninterrupted rows from the pitch level.”

As far as the old seats are concerned, CA Osasuna will be distributing these around the Navarre region to 120 clubs to which it is linked. These smaller clubs can benefit from El Sadar seats, especially as many of their facilities didn’t previously enjoy any seats at all. Around 1,800 of these seats will also be installed in the club’s sports city in Tajonar, Spain.

The first building work to take place was the revamp of the changing rooms at the request of the club’s technical staff, as Zuza outlined that the revamp work of the stadium being carried out is the most cost-effective reforms in Europe, “This was not initially planned, but it was done in order to start the first match of the season with these works already completed. We have invested in the changing rooms, doubling the size of the home changing room and adding a second floor with an activation room. We have also reformed the media room, the anti-doping room, the referee’s changing rooms and the presidential suite, while we will add new offices for marketing and communication, as well as a multipurpose meeting room.”

Throughout this whole development, those who are at the helm of the project have paid close attention to the cost factor, which will be between €16m and €19m, depending on final analysis of the current season. This works out at around €800 per seat, which the club claims to be lower than any similar project across Europe. The closest equivalent is said to be of Italian football club Udinese Calcio’s Dacia Arena, where it worked out at around €900 per seat.

The capacity at El Sadar has been raised as part of this work, reaching a total capacity between 23,500 and 23,600. This represents a reduction of 800 to 900 seats based on the original plans, because of changes requested by the local Navarre Government, the creation of a larger press area and the expansion of some boxes and sections for fans with reduced mobility. Fans with disabilities will find supporting their team a lot easier as the new-look stadium will have an elevator at each corner of the ground.

The remodeling and expansion work at El Sadar is progressing at a good pace on all fronts and the club continues to plan for the whole stadium to be operational by October this year.

Zuza informed, “In June, the stadium will grow in height, up to 29 meters, while the new stands will be installed. Shortly before mid-July, the trusses that hold the roof will begin to arrive and the idea is that they be installed during July and August. The roof itself will be installed between August and September, followed by the lighting and the PA system. Meanwhile, all the interior rooms will be completed. By the end of September or beginning of October, the bulk of the work will be finished.”

La Liga’s gradual approach to resume training was approved by the sports and health authorities and the safety quotient was accorded the topmost priority.

The construction site in Pamplona is abuzz with activity though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down redevelopment work.

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