San Mames Stadium
Address: Rafael Moreno Pitxitxi s/n, 48013 Bilbao
Telephone: +34 94 406 18 98
Pitch Type: Grass Hybrid
Club Nickname: The Lions
Year Ground Opened: 2010
Shirt Sponsors: Kutxabank
Kit Manufacturer:New Balance
Home Kit: Red and White
Away Kit: Lime Green
It does not matter where you approach the Athletic Bilbao Stadium from you will promptly recognise it regardless. The oval shaped stadium, which sits centrally in a huge pedestrian walkway, has glass panels wrapping around the bottom with five tiers of elongated white LED triangular shapes heading up to the top. The only things breaking that striking exterior is the occasional monstrous one-way window and then, at ground level, the club shop and museum. If you only visit the stadium once though, we recommend you go at night; those triangular shapes we mention will be illuminated to dominate the landscape.
Finally, you have the roof; a translucent canopy looms inwards leaving just the very centre open to the elements; the intention of that design feature being two fold. One thing is that it sends the crowd noise rattling around the stadium and back to the pitch but the main reason is because it helps to protect the fans from the often wet Bilbao weather.
With respect of the inside of the Athletic Bilbao new stadium you’ll quickly observe the modern wrap around seating that ensures everyone has a perfect view of the field of play; the corner sections wrap around giving a continuous flow between each stand. The stands are split into three tiers; the bottom tier has a more gradual incline to it before a much slimmer tier of executive boxes and lounges. Finally, you have the upper tier; here the seating is on a sharp gradient ensuring even at full capacity that the spectators are close to the action. It means they have a good view of the game and ramps the atmosphere up as well.
When it comes to getting your fill in Bilbao you’ll have lots of choice in San Mames Stadium. Regardless of where you’re seated you won’t be far from one of their Pozo bars; here you’re looking at quick grab and go food and drink with the atmosphere of the other fans around you. If you’re looking for a more traditional ‘English’ way then La Campa de los Ingleses is the place for you; this ‘pub’ translates to ‘The Englishmen’s Field’ and is a nod to the Brits who introduced football to the residents of Bilbao way back when. Finally, if you’re feeling especially bougie then head to San Mames Jatetxea. This restaurant serves top drawer fine dining food and great wines and pays homage to the Basque traditions.
If you’d rather pick up your grub outside of the ground then you’ve still got a lot of choice. Your closest options that are worth a visit are probably Bar Cafe Pacifico and Gabina; both are just a five minute walk to the stadium offering a bar and grill experience. Pushing slightly further away – but still inside a 10 minute stroll – you have the likes of Le Bol Blanc, Baden Baden and the well respected Gu2.
It’s not all about food though. Thankfully, there are plenty of places you can grab a good beverage too. Bar Aterpe, located on Juan Antonio Zunzunegui is just five minutes away and will get you in the mood for game day whilst Pub Sir Winston Churchill, which actually operates as a cocktail bar, and Corto Maltes are other options. Finally, if you want to be on the water then you’ll want to hit up El Cargadero de Bilbao.
The visiting supporters section is the south east corner of the ground, which as we’ve touched on, doesn’t impact the view you receive. In fact, the flow of the stands around the corners mean you’re nicely sandwiched between home fans, which helps the atmosphere. The other big plus point to being situated in that corner is that you’re close to the club museum and the majority of eateries are located that side of the Athletic Bilbao stadium.
There are certain stadiums that can be a real pain to get to; San Mames Stadium is not one of them. If you live – or are staying in Bilbao – then you can pretty much reach the stadium on foot from anywhere if you’re willing to put the yards in. Equally, it’s well connected via main roads – namely the AP-8 – whilst bus and train links are very good. The main metro station is appropriately named ‘San Mames’ and brings you right to the stadium.
If you want to enjoy Bilbao for longer than 90 minutes then a stay in the area could be worth considering. You’re not blessed with option but there is still enough choice to ensure you can rest your head somewhere respectable. For easy access to the Athletic Bilbao stadium you could stay at San Mames Ostatua; it’s only a 2-star hotel but it has a reputation for being clean and tidy whilst the price of circa £60 a night is easy on the wallet. A better quality hotel that also offers pretty straight forward route to the stadium – a five minute walk – is the 4-star Hotel NH Collection Villa de Bilbao. It will set you back 50% more though at £90 per room per night. If, however, you’ve splashed enough on your tickets then Bilbao Metropolitan Hostel by Bossh! Hotels offers rooms from £25 a night; the downside being that you will be over a mile away from the Athletic Bilbao ground.
Athletic Bilbao have been around for 123 years. Work on the Athletic Bilbao new stadium broke ground in 2010 with the official opening coming three years later; poetically that is a century after they moved into the original San Mames. The current stadium is built in the same place, which is an important fact to note with the old San Mames Stadium known all around the world. The process wasn’t a quick one though with planning through to opening taking a total of seven years; even then further tweaks have been made to enhance the overall stadium with the previously mentioned roof one of the key areas that has come in for work.
The below link will take you to the team website.
Athletic Club: all the matches | 2020-21 Season | All competitions | Athletic Club’s Official Website (athletic-club.eus)