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Real Madrid stadium upgrade: Santiago Bernabeu gets €800m facelift

A Real Madrid stadium upgrade is taking place, as the Santiago Bernabeu, home of 14-time European Cup champions and Spanish giants, is having a facelift.

The stadium, renowned worldwide as one of the best sporting arenas and football stadia, is undergoing renovations, which will bring it to new heights, and become the benchmark to which all state-of-the-art football stadia worldwide will look when it is finally finished.

But when will that be, and what exactly is being done in the Real Madrid stadium upgrade to make it an even better experience for the football fans that visit it?

The history of the Santiago Bernabeu

ICONSPORT sipausa 47779213
Photo by Icon Sport

Home to Real Madrid since 1947 and named after their legendary president, Santiago Bernabeu, the stadium is the second largest football stadium in Spain, with a current capacity of 83,168.

It has held the European Cup final on four occasions in its history, firstly in 1957, then in 1969 while once again hosting it again in 1980 and finally in 2010. It has also hosted a European Championship Final (1964) and a World Cup Final (1982), making it the first stadium to do so.

Real Madrid stadium upgrade

Real Madrid Stadium upgrade
Photo by Icon Sport

The stadium itself will be a priority, with a wrap-around façade and steel stripes that will light up when projected with images. A retractable roof will also be placed, meaning no fan will be subject to the elements, like rain, wind, or snow.

A dedicated esports area will be inserted, showing the club itself is keeping up with modern times.

Updating its security and evacuation plans also coincides with the Real Madrid stadium upgrade, while more accessible entry and exit points will prevent overcrowding. Adding new escalators will make the movement of personnel easier around the stadium.

Real Madrid museum expansion

Whilst the museum at the Santiago Bernabeu is already a brilliant experience, with all of the club’s silverware on display and past legends being shown in every corner, it will also be updated while stadium renovations are done.

A new interactive section will use virtual reality to bring football fans an even better experience. It will be placed in the Paseo de la Castellana area. The experience of Tour Bernabéu will be extended to provide fans with a panoramic tour of the stadium's outer rim.

Shopping experience enhanced

Real Madrid Stadium upgrade
Photo by Icon Sport

Two new Real Madrid stores will be built, and will be using the latest technology to run in-store. With technology at the forefront of the new stadium, shopping experiences will be enhanced.

Digital points of sale will allow fans to shop for their favourite brands. Everything, from phones to clothes, will be sold at these digital points of sale.

Real Madrid stadium upgrade completion date

Real Madrid Stadium upgrade
Photo by Icon Sport

The Real Madrid stadium upgrade work started back in 2019 and was due to be concluded in 2022.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing delays, fans will have to wait until the 2023/24 season to see the finished article, with many looking forward to seeing how it can be enhanced already from the magnificent stadium it is already.

The new capacity will allow it to have 85,000 spectators at each game. This will make it one of the largest stadia in Europe, with more fans being able to attend games to watch Los Blancos’ in La Liga.

According to Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, the final cost of the renovation is around €800m, with the club getting a loan out, meaning they have 35 years to pay it back at €29.3 million a year, with a 2.5 interest rate.

Real Madrid stadium upgrade timeline

• 1944: Santiago Bernabeu, the former Spanish footballer, and Rafael Salgado get funds to acquire land for a stadium.
• 1947: The stadium was inaugurated.
• 1955: The stadium saw its first major reconstruction, increasing capacity to 125,000.
• 1955: General Assembly of Members Compromisaros named the stadium Santiago Bernabeu in honour of club President Santiago Bernabeu.
• 1972: First electronic scoreboard was 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 pandemic and war in Ukraine delayed plans.
• 2023: The Real Madrid stadium upgrade is expected to be completed in December 2023.


Philip O'Rourke

Philip O Rourke is a Dublin-based journalist and author of Forgotten Football Clubs, 50 Clubs Around the World. He appears on the Forgotten Football Clubs podcast and, in his spare time, travels around Europe to different football stadiums, trying to watch as many different clubs as he can.

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