The final preparations are being made for the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu’s reopening on Sunday, 560 days since the stadium last welcomed fans into the stands.
Real Madrid’s last game at the ground, back on 1 March 2020, is a far-off yet happy memory for Los Blancos, who that day beat arch rivals Barcelona with goals by Vinicius Junior and Mariano Díaz. A year and a half later, Madrid return to their home stadium together with 30,000 supporters, the maximum allowed by Spain’s health ministry amid coronavirus restrictions. In recent days, the club has worked tirelessly to remove the heavy machinery occupying the space where the pitch lies, and to get the turf laid.
Bernabéu works right on schedule
As for the remodelling works, everything remains on course. Having continued non-stop as the team played its home games at the Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano while fans remained absent due to covid-19, the reconstruction process is expected to be completed more or less within the timeline established before the outbreak of the coronavirus, despite the impact of the pandemic and the complexity of the works (a particularly challenging part of the process has been the installation of what will be a 30-metre deep retractable pitch).
The official inauguration of the ‘New Bernabéu’ is expected to take place in December 2022, with Madrid chiefs targeting the 14th, to coincide with the Bernabéu’s 75th birthday. On that day in 1947, the Bernabéu was opened with a friendly between Real Madrid and the Portuguese side Os Belenenses, Los Blancos winning 3-1 thanks to a goal by Sabino Barinaga and a brace by Chus Alonso. Madrid feel this choice of date will add extra significance to an event that the world game’s greatest legends will all be invited to.
World Cup final could be obstacle to inauguration plans
The only issue with 14 December 2022 is that four days later, the 2022 World Cup final is to be played in Qatar. It’s therefore possible that some of Los Merengues’ players will still be at the tournament, so the club is also looking at the possibility of holding a more institutional-style inauguration on 14 December and, following the conclusion of the World Cup, putting on a match against a major European club or an international XI.
It’s estimated that the revenue generated by the revamped stadium will boost Real Madrid’s coffers by around 150 to 200 million euros a year, helping to safeguard the club’s finances in the decades to come. The ‘New Bernabéu’ is a dream that is moving closer and closer to becoming a reality. Just 15 months to go now.