Argentinian Primera División football club River Plate has laid out its vision for the second phase of its redevelopment of El Monumental, stating that it will seek to transform its stadium into a cutting-edge venue which has the biggest capacity for a football facility in South America.
River in February returned to a revamped El Monumental, with the first phase completed of what was intended to be a broader redevelopment project. In August 2020, the Buenos Aires giant announced plans to utilise the COVID-19 period to revamp its stadium, with the long-term goal of bringing fans closer to the action.
The club claimed that through the initial renovations, River’s players would enjoy the best playing field in South America due to the installation of a new pitch with hybrid technology. The irrigation system was also improved, while the athletics track separating the pitch from the stands was removed and a new players’ tunnel installed.
Fencing was removed allowing for a better viewing experience for fans, who have also benefited from a new stadium Wi-Fi system, new toilets and concessions. The club invested ARS200m (£1.49m/€1.74m/$2m) in the works, and said at the time that further development was planned.
The second phase of work will see El Monumental expand by a further 9,000 seats, taking its capacity to 81,000. Speaking to Argentinian news website Infobae, River president Rodolfo D’Onofrio and Mariano Taratuty, head of the club’s planning department, said that while a start date has not been finalised, the plans are in place.
D’Onofrio said: “What we have defined is the model and all the details of how the work will be and what the final product of what we are doing will be. It must be made clear that to do this it is necessary that there is no pandemic, but no one knows when it will end.
“Also, that the economy is working. The club can generate funds to pay for this, but it must also be generated through the sale of what will be this stage two. There will be (corporate) boxes in the Sivori and in the Centenario (stands). There will be more than 76.
“There will be these boxes, plus the new stalls. In the stadium the stands are going to approach (the pitch). They will be 12 metres from the playing field. Closeness will be important. All of this will depend on the (COVID-19) situation.”
The vast majority of seats within the stadium will be replaced, with the addition of new corporate boxes also being seen as a key revenue generator for the club. Taratuty said: “There will be 76 new boxes, and we currently have 104 boxes. It would be a total of 180 boxes, which is the demand that the club has. Today there is a waiting list. It will be a source of financing for this work.
“In addition to being more comfortable, with this percentage of 75% of seats and 25% of popular (capacity), the stadium will also grow by 9,000 more seats, making it the stadium with the largest capacity in South America. It will go to 81,000.”
D’Onofrio continued: “El Monumental, for those of us who follow in the history of River, have to transform it into even more Monumental. It will be a monumental work, an icon of the city. Imagine concerts, cultural events, visits of tourists, fans and River members, who will have more comfort.
“We took an important first step with the field of play. The players, who come from Europe to play with the national team, value that they play on a playing field similar to the ones they use in their leagues.”
Taratuty said that through the redevelopment project River would also consider entering into a stadium naming rights deal for El Monumental, adding that the club sees it “as a possible source of funding”.
Another key aspect of the second phase of redevelopment will be the introduction of a restaurant to El Monumental, something seen as an innovative move for a football stadium in Argentina.
D’Onofrio added: “It is something that River must have, we cannot not have it. Whoever has the concessions will be totally successful. It will be a differentiation not only because of the beauty of the place and the food, but also because of the view of El Monumental and the River District.
“It will be something wonderful. Having the experience of eating and seeing El Monumental is not something that only the River fan will want, but also tourists. The fan, and the one who is not a fan, can go any day of the week.”
Image: Diego Haliasz / Prensa River