New-look Bernabéu to feature retractable pitch

Real Madrid’s transformation project for the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu will include the installation of a retractable pitch, with work reportedly already underway.

Spanish newspaper Marca said the LaLiga football club has decided on a retractable pitch in an effort to ensure its new-look stadium is multi-purpose, aiding the staging of events such as concerts. Real’s venture will reportedly differ from similar systems employed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Veltins-Arena, home of German Bundesliga club Schalke 04, by moving the pitch underground when not in use.

The Bernabéu’s location in the heart of Madrid is said to have necessitated this approach, with Real employing a “greenhouse cave” to house the pitch. Marca states this system is particularly ambitious as it requires the construction of an underground holding area with the rights conditions of humidity and light to ensure the pitch remains in good condition.

The pitch is currently replaced each season as it is difficult to maintain due to the characteristics of the stadium, which does not allow much natural light to reach the field. The new approach will grant Real benefits in the long-term through reduced maintenance costs.

Real last month recommenced work on the redevelopment of the Bernabéu, marking the occasion with the release of a new video showcasing the project. Throughout the 2019-20 season, work has been taking place to adapt or demolish existing parts of the stadium, but this was suspended at the end of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2019, Real awarded Spanish building and infrastructure company FCC Construcción the contract to handle the redevelopment of Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. At the time, Real said the timeframe needed to renovate the Bernabéu was 39 months, meaning it would be finished by August 2022, plus an additional four months needed to develop the stadium’s exterior.

The redevelopment work is taking place alongside the normal sporting calendar and the stadium’s other activities, but with work having started last summer, the delivery date is reported to have slipped to October 2022.

The FCC deal came after Real approved a financing package for the redevelopment of the Bernabéu, with US financial services giants J.P Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to lead the €575m (£509.7m/$621.6m) loan.

Real president Florentino Pérez provided an update on the plans earlier in April 2019. Through extensive renovations, Real is planning to modernise the 81,000-seat stadium, which has been its home since 1947.