SC Braga picture-postcard venue up for sale!



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SC Braga stadium up for sale Image: Braga Municipal Stadium, magicman0361, Copyrighted free use

The Braga Municipal Stadium in Braga, Portugal, home of the Portuguese Primeira Liga football club SC Braga, has been put up for sale by the Braga City Council.

‘publico.pt’ stated that the Mayor of Braga, Ricardo Rio, confirmed recently that the Braga Municipal Stadium is up for sale. The stadium belongs to the City Council.

The stadium is the seventh largest football stadium in Portugal, with a capacity of 30,286 spectators. It was designed by the Portuguese Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, who was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in part for this design.

The stadium is carved into a granite hillside, with one stand built into a granite massif resembling a Greek amphitheater. The lighting is designed to be almost vertical, shining down from the stands.

Braga regularly only fills half of the arena. The City Council is selling the stadium because the club only pays €500 per month to rent it, and improvements are needed. The stadium cost around €200m to develop.

The Council is formally assessing the value at which the stadium could be sold.

Mayor Rio said, “It only makes sense for the stadium to be used by Braga.”

The Sporting Clube de Braga, commonly known as Sporting de Braga or just Braga, is a Portuguese sports club from the City of Braga, Portugal. It is best known for the professional football team playing in the Primeira Liga, the top flight of Portuguese football at the Braga Municipal Stadium.

The Braga Municipal Stadium is an all-seater football stadium located in Braga, Portugal, and the current home of Sporting Clube de Braga. It has a capacity of 30,286 spectators, making it the seventh largest football stadium in Portugal.

The Braga City Council is the local Government of the City of Braga, Portugal. The Braga City Council is committed to improving the relationship between the City’s population and the local Government. The Council wants to make the relationship closer, more transparent and more accessible.

‘The Athletic’ stated that at the end of the spiraling roads that lead to the highest point in the Dume area, right next to an old quarry lies a stadium that seems to defy logic. A stand with its foundations built into a rock, a giant scoreboard perched on a granite embankment behind one goal, and nothing but empty space behind the other, offering a panoramic of the City (Braga) below.

Known as ‘A Pedreira’ (The Quarry), the stadium could have been unremarkable were it not for Architect Souto de Moura, whose creation was awarded the Pritzker Award in 2011, regarded as the Nobel Prize of Architecture.

Said Souto de Moura, “Being an architect is not an easy life, and to get international recognition for a small country like Portugal… I’m not going to pretend I suffer from false modesty. The Braga stadium might be the most difficult project I ever did. And perhaps for that very reason, the one I enjoyed the most.”

Souto de Moura was handed the reins of the project in the year 2000.

Sensing an opportunity, he agreed to a meeting the next day to discuss the brief where it was decided the capacity should be 30,000.

Said Souto de Moura, “They had found a plot of land for a stadium in a valley with a waterway. They thought the stands could follow the curves of the valley. I visited and fell in love with it. I still have the photos I took at the time. Above the land was this old quarry. I started to visualize the stadium, enclosed by the rock. I told the Council I wanted to build it there with a 15,000-capacity stand carved into the rock and then do the same on the other side. There would only be two stands and people would be able to have a good view of the game. One thing I realized while designing the stadium was that every stadium is now a TV studio.”

He added, “That’s why I designed the lighting to be almost vertical above the pitch (they shine down from the extremities of both stands), and as close as possible. I am not an expert in football but it’s a kind of theater, with actors on both sides.”

Turning his sketches into a reality required innovation, painstaking experimentation and years of safety testing – all while having to stay within budget and a three-year build time.

The main ambition was to integrate the stadium into the environment, therefore trusses, poles and cables could not be part of the aesthetic as they are in most football stadiums.

The West stand is carved into a granite massif, to give the effect of a Greek amphitheater. It involved 1,700,000 cubic meters of hard rock and gravel being excavated before the 18 one-meter thick uprights could be held down by anchors.

Added Souto de Moura, “It was a big open space under a concrete cover. It made me realize that it was possible to cover a structure without using glass or anything else. But the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) said that there needed to be natural light, and that the stadium had to be ventilated so the cover could not be completely closed. I tried to make small adjustments to allow light to come in from above, using holes in the cover, but the sun would have come in and made circles of light on the pitch. I gave up on that idea and thought about leaving a rectangular opening that was the exact same size as the proportions of the pitch.”

A colleague traveled to the UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland and received approval for his plan to have two concrete slabs covering each stand, connected and held up by a network of 25-meter-long steel cables that stretch across the pitch. Each one is connected to girders, which are secured to the rock of the quarry.

It was a mammoth task to achieve the correct balance of forces with no pillars to support the roof – which is a cantilever only supported by the West stand with the cables anchored into the rock. Two large beams at the top of both stands add support but it took computer simulations and small-scale model tests in a wind tunnel before it was safe to build.

The stadium was successfully completed in time for EURO 2004, a home tournament in which Portugal lost to Greece in the final.

‘The Athletic’ further stated that yet Braga still regularly only fill half of the arena, which belongs to the City Council, and Ricardo Rio, the Mayor of Braga and President of the City Council, confirmed the stadium is up for sale earlier this month.

The Estádio 1° de Maio was Braga’s long-term home from 1921 until 2003. They have been paying just €500 (£435; $533) per month to rent their current stadium and, with improvements needed to modernize facilities, the Council are cutting ties.

The Estádio 1° de Maio is a multipurpose stadium in the civil parish of Braga in the Municipality of Braga, in the district of the same name. Built in 1950 to host mostly football matches, the stadium has the capacity to seat 28,000 spectators.

Informed Mayor Rio, “The dialog has opened, therefore, we are going to formally make an assessment of the value at which the stadium could be sold. It only makes sense for the stadium to be used by Braga. I do not intend to demand the €200million that was invested in this facility, but, obviously, an amount that allows the City Council to be reimbursed and, for example, to make other projects viable, including the rehabilitation of the Estádio 1° de Maio, which after these years of abandonment, has ended up suffering very rapid degradation.”

There has been talk in recent years that Braga could build a new stadium on the old site, which is a thought that saddens Souto de Moura even more than it does to his unique creation being altered.

He remarked, “Portugal is one of the hosts of World Cup 2030, and to be eligible for the knockout games you need a stadium with 60,000 seats. Braga only has 30,000. When it was built, Braga were usually finishing in the bottom half of the table, often at risk of relegation, now they’re near the top, so people now demand more of the club. If it was the other way around and the stadium was too big, people would be complaining as well. It’s a risk of the profession.”

Until 2013, the Braga had only won a single major trophy – the 1966 Portuguese League Cup. Since then, they have solidified their profile as the fourth-best team in Portugal, winning four domestic cups and establishing themselves in Europe, reaching the 2011 Europa League Final and qualifying for the Champions League group stage for the third time this season.

In line with their growing ambitions, Braga are close to completing their ‘Sports City’ project, first set out in 2017, with a new women’s arena complementing the sprawling academy building and pitches above the Municipal Stadium.

It has been a home for Braga as they have grown into one of the big boys of Portuguese football – and are now 22 percent owned by the Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (France) owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).

In a world of glass and stainless steel, this concrete amphitheater by the cliff face is a work of art as much as it is a football stadium.

‘publico.pt’ further stated that the Braga Municipal Stadium stands as a perfect example of sheer waste of public money and the Municipality is now putting it up for sale to stop bleeding white. It is indeed a case of how much is too much and the Braga City Council members while initially drawing up plans for the stadium decided to invest taxpayers’ money heavily into a facility which gave little in return.

The Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) is a closed shareholding organization founded in 2005 and based in Doha, Qatar. Revenues generated from ventures of QSI are reinvested into Qatar’s sport, leisure and entertainment sectors.

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, as well as some Asian countries such as Israel, Cyprus and Armenia. The UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Because of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

The UEFA Europa League is an annual football club competition organized since 1971 by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) for eligible European football clubs. It is the second-tier competition of European club football, ranking below the UEFA Champions League and above the UEFA Europa Conference League.

The UEFA Champions League is an annual club association football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations and contested by top-division European clubs, deciding the competition winners through a round robin group stage to qualify for a double-legged knockout format and a single leg final.

The UEFA Europa Conference League, which will be renamed the UEFA Conference League from the 2024-2025 seasons, is an annual football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations for the eligible European football clubs.

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