On March 1, 2020, at 23:17 CET, when the floodlights of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu were switched off, nobody could have imagined that they wouldn’t be turned back on again.
The stands were still shaking from the celebrations of Mariano‘s goal which sealed a 2-0 win in the Clasico, but nobody knew what was coming.
The COVID-19 pandemic stopped football and closed the Bernabeu.
Since then, a year has passed and Real Madrid are now at home at Valdebebas, not the Paseo de la Castellana.
Since April 2020, more than 700 construction workers head to the Bernabeu every day to make it the best stadium in the world.
The closed doors nature of football in the past 12 months has allowed the club to move fixtures to the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano and advance through works at the Bernabeu more quickly.
On June 14, 2020, the first game was played at the club’s temporary home with doubts about how it would impact the team.
On the field, if anything, it helped the team, who made it a fort and won all six games at the tail end of last season to win LaLiga Santander.
The Clasico is still to come
Now, 14 teams have visited the Di Stefano, twice in the case of Valencia, Getafe and Alaves, and it has hosted a Derbi Madrileno, but not a Clasico yet.
Barcelona, Elche, Real Betis, Osasuna, Sevilla and Real Sociedad, who come on Monday, are the only sides yet to step foot on the pitch.
At the Di Stefano, Real Madrid are still yet to draw and on April 10 will face their biggest test yet as they welcome Barcelona.
Real Madrid had to work hard to get the necessary permissions from LaLiga and UEFA to make the move, with UEFA proving more difficult due to the demands on stadiums for the Champions League.
With investment made, and in record-breaking time, the club got the stadium ready to host all games.
That meant locking down the Bernabeu to accelerate building work, but playing behind closed doors is a financial blow for Real Madrid.
The coronavirus impact
The impact of COVID-19 consists in 100 million euros lost by the club, as their annual statement explains, with no income from fans and a 25 percent refund for season ticket holders and hospitality clients.
The financial crisis doesn’t affect the stadium, which already had its budget approved in April 2019, with a 575m euro loan to be repaid over 30 years with 2.5 percent fixed interest.
That loan won’t start to be repaid until 2023, when building work will be complete and the benefits will start to come in.
The club are paying for the new arena in parts, with 100m euros in July 2019, 275m euros in July 2020 and 200m euros in July 2021.
Drama for the neighbours
Without fans, Real Madrid suffer but so too do the local businesses, bars and restaurants around the stadium.
Not only do they miss out on that income, but they have also dealt with ongoing building work around them.