Argentinian Primera División football club River Plate has announced plans to utilise the COVID-19 period to revamp its El Monumental stadium, with the long-term goal of bringing fans closer to the action.

In what it claims is “unprecedented work” in domestic football, River said it will make use of the time it has to play games behind closed doors to change the entire playing field. The Buenos Aires giant said it will introduce a next-generation hybrid pitch system which will compete with the best on offer throughout the world.

To carry out this work, the playing field will be lowered until reaching the optimum level defined by a geotechnical study carried out in recent weeks. In addition, in terms of infrastructure, two significant changes will be made to the stadium. The athletics track surrounding the pitch will be eliminated and a new “unique tunnel” will be built through which both the home and away team will enter the field of play.

River said the work will be completed in early 2021, adding: “These transformations will allow in the future to advance plans to bring the stands closer to the field of play.”

Argentina’s Health Ministry this week authorised five clubs, including River, to restart training from August 10 after almost five months of inactivity. The work on El Monumental will mean River will need to find alternative venues for games, once action resumes. The club is reportedly keen on hosting closed doors Primera División matches at River Camp, the club’s Ezeiza training complex, but it will need a larger stadium for Copa Libertadores games.

In August 2019, River announced that the capacity of El Monumental had been expanded by nearly 4,000. The capacity of El Monumental now stands at 70,074, up from its previous limit of 66,266. This came after work carried out by River’s infrastructure department, which was approved by the City of Buenos Aires.

River has called El Monumental home since 1938.

Image: Diego Haliasz/Prensa River