With a new retractable roof, pitch storage and removal system, a futuristic wrap-around and several other stunning features, the Real Madrid stadium renovation at the Santiago Bernabeú has drawn great attention across the world.
Construction began in 2019 and though delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Bernabeu looks incredible already ahead of its December 2023 completion.
What is the Santiago Bernabeu renovation and upgrade?
The Bernabeu upgrade process will increase the historic football ground's capacity from around 81,000 to 84,000.
One of the most complicated stages of the renovation has been the implementation of a world-leading pitch storage and removal system.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) September 5, 2023
In the video above, Real Madrid demonstrate how the pitch is separated into six sections to be stored beneath the surface in a temperature and light-controlled environment. The storage facility is, in essence, a greenhouse that will ensure the highest-quality playing surface.
There's also now a retractable roof with two enormous, 800-tonne panels which can come over the pitch to create one of the largest indoor arenas in the world. The roof was kept closed for Real Madrid's first home game of this 2023/24 La Liga season against Getafe.
Elsewhere, the exterior of the ground is spaceship-esque, a dedicated esports area is now included, there's been a major security overhaul as well as an upgraded museum.
How much did Real Madrid stadium renovation cost?
So, how did all of this cost?
Well, the exact figure is not clear, nor disclosed.
In 2019, a deal was agreed with JP Morgan and Bank of America to loan €575m. A further loan of €225m was added in 2021 as plans expanded in scope. Another loan was then considered as costs continued to rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased material costs due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
It's now thought that the full reconstruction costs will come around the €1bn mark.
Real Madrid will pay back these loans over several decades and hope to recoup their expenditure at speed. It's suggested that the club's revenues from the Santiago Bernabeu stadium will increase from €150m per year to €400m per year.
A deal with Sixth Street and Legends of up to €360m has already been agreed.
Who designed the Real Madrid stadium renovation?
Two Spanish studios, L35 and Ribas & Ribas and the German studio GMP Architecten.
Back in 1947 upon the stadium's original construction, the architects Manuel Muñoz Monasterio and Luis Alemany Soler were behind the plans.
Real Madrid stadium timeline
1944: Santiago Bernabéu and Rafael Salgado are given credit by the Banco Mercantil e Industrial bank to purchase the land next to Real Madrid's old Chamartín Stadium. Architects Manuel Muñoz Monasterio and Luis Alemany Soler were hired in September and construction began in October.
1947: The stadium, officially named Estadio Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, was inaugurated.
1955: The General Assembly of Members Compromisaros named the stadium, up until this point more informally known simply as Chamartín, in honour of club President Santiago Bernabeu.
1955: The stadium enjoyed its first major reconstruction, increasing capacity to 125,000.
1972: First electronic scoreboard set up in the stadium.
1994: Following UEFA's guidelines for spectator safety, the Bernabeu was upgraded to provide a more comfortable experience.
2018: Pérez's renovation plans to revamp the stadium were approved in the 2018 General Assembly.
2019: The remodelling process began.
2022: Work was to be completed by 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine delayed plans.
2023: The Real Madrid stadium upgrade is expected to be fully completed in December 2023.
How to do a Real Madrid stadium tour at the Santiago Bernabeu?
Prices range from €25 to €37 to do a Real Madrid stadium tour and you can book here.