Real’s revamped venue to rake in moolah


Real Madrid Bernabeu update May 2020 Image: Marca

The new Santiago Bernabéu will be one of Madrid’s architectural marvel and one of the most picturesque stadiums in the world – in a quaint and charming way. The stadium will famously feature a wraparound skin and retractable roof, but the best kept secret in the club is within the venue – the project that is already underway to make the new Bernabéu stadium with a retractable lawn.

Real Madrid’s transformation project for the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu will include the installation of a retractable pitch, with work reportedly already underway.

The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is a football stadium in Madrid, Spain. It is the second largest stadium in Spain after the Camp Nou. It has a capacity for 81,044 people. Construction work has resumed on the remodeling of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. It is the residence of Spanish professional football club Real Madrid.

The ‘white coliseum’ will have a removable lawn which will allow the stadium to become a multiuse facility which can be used for other events, especially concerts. In the future, even basketball games or other disciplines can be hosted. For this, it is essential to boast a lawn that can be removed in just a few minutes.

Since the reconfiguration work has started, a lot of planning has gone into carrying out the idea of a retractable lawn. Removing all the grass from the stadium is not a feasible option given the fact that since Bernabéu sits in the heart of the city, there is no room left to remove the entire playing field. So, the only option left was to remove the grass on plates that move by rails and keep them somewhere within the stadium precincts.

An underground space – a kind of greenhouse cave – below the west side of the stadium will be used to keep the seven or eight plates of the playing field – one on top of the other – with the ideal temperature and other requisite conditions.

The Bernabéu’s location in the heart of Madrid is said to have necessitated this approach, with Real employing a ‘greenhouse cave’ to house the pitch. This system is particularly ambitious as it requires the construction of an underground holding area with the rights conditions of humidity and light to ensure the pitch remains in good condition.

The project is challenging because it is necessary to make a kind of greenhouse cave that will create the ideal conditions of humidity and light so that the lawn can be lodged underground without any problem. And it is quite a daunting task as there are other structures in the city that sits below the stadium and extra care will have to be taken to ensure that the other structures do not get damaged.

The lawn in Santiago Bernabéu has always looked flawless for years. But, keeping the lawn impeccable has not been an easy task as the stadium is very high and closed from all sides thus not allowing much light to enter the field. Every year, the grass is changed for the new season, but, with a retractable lawn to be put in place, the entire maintenance part will be a less expensive affair in the long term. Several events like concerts can be held in the middle of the season once the retractable lawn is put into place.

Real’s venture will reportedly differ from similar systems employed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Veltins-Arena, home of German Bundesliga club Schalke 04, by moving the pitch underground when not in use.

The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium uses the world’s first dividing, retractable grass football pitch. Mounted in three enormous trays, the grass surface can be rolled away beneath the south stand to reveal an artificial NFL American football field beneath.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the home of Tottenham Hotspur in north London which opened on April 3, 2019, with a ceremony before the first Premier League game held at the stadium. Veltins Arena, also known as the Schalke Arena, is a multiuse stadium located in the Erle borough, north of Gelsenkirchen, in Germany. The retractable roof and sliding pitch of the stadium make it a multipurpose arena.

Unlike Real Madrid, both these stadiums take the field of play out of their facilities, while in Santiago Bernabéu it will be housed within the premises itself. The Spurs use a system of plates and rails very similar to the one that the ‘White Coliseum’ is going to implant while the Germans take the entire field in about 12 hours with a 10,000-ton plate by guides 25 centimeters wide and 300 meters long.

Real Madrid C.F. maintains that the reconfigured Bernabéu will bring in the moolah as the retractable lawn will make it a multiuse venue. The avant-garde arena will get a shot in the arm as it will be possible to open the stadium 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

Presently, the pitch in Santiago Bernabéu is replaced each season.

Last month, Real recommenced work on the redevelopment of the Bernabéu. Throughout the 2019-20 seasons, work has been taking place to adapt or demolish existing parts of the stadium, but this was suspended at the end of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2019, Real awarded Spanish building and infrastructure company FCC Construcción the contract to handle the redevelopment of Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. At the time, Real said the timeframe needed to renovate the Bernabéu was 39 months, meaning it would conclude by August 2022, plus an additional four months needed to develop the stadium’s exterior.

The redevelopment work is taking place alongside the normal sporting calendar and the stadium’s other activities, but with work having started last summer, the delivery date is reported to have slipped to October 2022.

The FCC deal came after Real approved a financing package for the redevelopment of the Bernabéu, with US financial services giants J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to lead the €575m (£509.7m/$621.6m) loan.

Through extensive renovations, Real is planning to modernize the 81,000-seat stadium, which has been its home since 1947.

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