Will it be homecoming for San Lorenzo?


Argentina San Lorenzo new stadium- Prensa San Lorenzo Image: IDOM

For Argentine top tier football club San Lorenzo returning to the Buedo district of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires would mean homecoming if their new venue plans materialize.

San Lorenzo is an Argentine sports club which plays its home games at Estadio Pedro Bidegain, popularly known as Nuevo Gasómetro. The stadium and sports facilities are located in the Bajo Flores district of Buenos Aires in Argentina. San Lorenzo plays in the Primera División, the first tier of the Argentine football league system.

San Lorenzo made the 47,964-seat Estadio Pedro Bidegain its residence since the stadium opened its doors on December 16, 1993. San Lorenzo perforce had to move to Estadio Pedro Bidegain after the military Government expropriated its home ground, the historic 75,000-capacity Estadio Gasómetro which was located in the neighborhood of Boedo in Buenos Aires in 1979, with San Lorenzo playing its last game in the December of that year in the facility.

San Lorenzo later sold the stadium at a throwaway price and had to rent it for 14 years till Estadio Pedro Bidegain opened its doors in 1993. With fans and the general public according a massive mandate for the club’s return to its home field, San Lorenzo set the ball rolling for their return to Boedo which is more than a home for them. With the mockup model being presented, San Lorenzo’s dream may finally materialize.

San Lorenzo has engaged the Spanish architecture giant IDOM to design the new stadium.

Javier Dávila de Eusebio, Sports Architecture Business Development Manager, IDOM, Spain, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

A press release issued by the eminent design practice IDOM stated that on February 22nd, at the San Lorenzo Project Interpretation Center, San Lorenzo presented the integral plan for the implementation of its new stadium in the Boedo neighborhood – the place which is rightfully theirs – along with the model of the same. The project falls within the framework of the Rezoning Law, the first draft of which was approved in the Porteña Legislature (read Buenos Aires City Legislature) and which has led to the mandatory public hearing which begun in January 2021.

The Buenos Aires Legislature approved the Rezoning Law in first reading, which would pave the way for San Lorenzo to build a new stadium in Boedo.

The IDOM press release quoted Marcelo Tinelli, President, San Lorenzo, as stating, “It is a dream come true to see the model of the San Lorenzo stadium. We will ensure that the stadium sees the light of day. More than a stadium, it is an integral center with a stadium in the middle.”

Over the next few weeks, the San Lorenzo Project Interpretation Center doors will be open to all San Lorenzo fans and neighbors so that they can see the mockup first-hand.

The IDOM release added that the Public Hearing of the Rezoning Bill is on.

As regards the stadium mockup, Tinelli opined, “I really like the roofed part, it is something that I find spectacular. It will be a stadium with more than 46,000 seats. I like all the common areas, which will be the ones that people will be part of and, of course, the commercial part which will form an integral part of the development.”

Diego Rodríguez, an architect of the IDOM design team, explained that the planned stadium is characterized by a design which physically and socially integrates with the Boedo neighborhood, with a scale that has been thoroughly studied to facilitate integrating into the neighborhood.

César Azcárate, who is a part of the project, added that it will be a state-of-the-art stadium, meeting all FIFA and South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) standards, mirroring the tradition and history of San Lorenzo, which goes beyond football, integrating neighborhood uses, public and green space, commercial uses in the Avenida de la Plata, and a unique roof that will contribute to generating the football atmosphere in the real sense of the term, while at the same time according top priority to sustainability, the release concluded.

The San Lorenzo website stated that the club presented a model of a 46,264-capacity stadium which would act as the centerpiece of an ambitious project which would be integrated with the neighborhood and would include sprawling green spaces, a shopping complex, hotel, commercial space, and educational and cultural facilities.

The San Lorenzo website quoted Tinelli as stating that the stadium will “rejuvenate the neighborhood through culture and integration that will promote the club. This comprehensive center with a stadium in the middle is going to give Boedo back a lot of the things it had lost.”

“We have done a great job with all the neighbors, those who were for and against, to find out their needs. From all these conversations, we were able to incorporate a lot of useful aspects for the neighborhood into our original project,” the San Lorenzo President asserted.

Tinelli informed that IDOM has been hired with a mandate of being inspired by the history of the old Estadio Gasómetro.

He added, “We hope to be able to do it in the next few years, lay the first bricks and hopefully we can kickstart. Otherwise, I will be there nearby, as just another fan… I dream about it before finishing my mandate in 2023.”

Before anything can go full steam, the people will have to vote for the rezoning of the area.

The Secretary General of the club, Miguel Mastrosimone, advocated, “We have come to close the circle that began with the enactment of the Historical Repair Law, and to give the neighborhood everything it did not have for so many years, revitalizing it in harmony with the residential scale. We are going to make a huge investment, which will provide 5,000 jobs, green areas, security, modernity, culture and services for all the residents of Boedo, from whom we have been taking lot of suggestions over the last few months.”

Public Hearing

The days of the Public Hearing, with more than 1,200 registered speakers, will last until March 16th, 2021.

The vote on the second and final reading scheduled for April 2021 by the more than 1,200 residents signed up to offer their opinions regarding the Rezoning Bill will be the final seal of approval for the multifarious development.

Next on the stakes would be finding financiers for the project. An investment of between $70m (£49.6m/€57.6m) and $100m has been estimated.

Talking about the present economic gloom globally due to COVID-19 which is still bleeding the world, Tinelli stated, “Now comes the whole financial engineering that we are working on from different sides. There are companies from China, Germany, Switzerland and the United States that have contacted us. We have faith in being able to get a loan to pull off the whole project.”

For now, San Lorenzo is keeping fingers crossed as regards returning ‘home’.

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