Spanish LaLiga football club Valencia has publicly presented its revised plans for the Nuevo Mestalla for the first time, including revised capacity figures that will see the stadium delivered to a 70,000 capacity, but initially limited to 49,000.
Yesterday’s (Thursday’s) presentation was the latest step as Valencia seeks to resuscitate what has been a long and troubled project. The developments come after the club in March presented what was expected to be the definitive plan to restart the dormant project.
Valencia outlined the club’s response to the request by the plenary session of the Generalitat Valenciana, made on December 16, for a financially guaranteed proposal for the completion of the new stadium and the meeting of provisions under an ATE construction licence that was first granted in 2012.
Valencia president Anil Murthy, who departed last month, earlier maintained the club would not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding what he described as positive meetings with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the mothballed Nuevo Mestalla. Construction work on the Nuevo Mestalla was suspended in February 2009 and the venue has since become one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.
Fresh renderings for Valencia’s new vision were also released yesterday. The Nuevo Mestalla aims to be groundbreaking in terms of sustainability, thanks to its photovoltaic solar panelled roof, and will have “Mediterranean balconies” inspired by the current Mestalla. In addition, the venue promises to offer a significant improvement in the fan experience, with optimal view and comfort, and a large restaurant and entertainment area located in the second tier.
However, the new capacity plans were one of the main talking points at yesterday’s presentation. In March, the club said the new stadium would begin with a capacity comparable to that of the current Mestalla, around 55,000, with the possibility of a “flexible and fast expansion”, subject to demand, to up to 70,000 seats.
These guidelines have now changed, as Valencia’s director of operations, Christian Schneider, explained: “The license that was obtained initially allowed for 74,000 spectators. Adjusting to 70,000 is to improve capacity. We do not want this stadium to be unused, but rather to be used every day of the week, and it will remain open to the public.
“In the middle ring, areas will be created with restaurants and leisure facilities. We have requested the license for 70,000, but we have initially opted for 49,000. The change is the third tier. There are two reasons for us to begin with a 49,000 capacity. The first reason is that the current average attendance would make the stadium half empty, and that would hinder us at a sporting level. It could be gradually expanded. If we host the 2030 World Cup we could expand.”
Regarding the changes from earlier this year, Schneider continued: “The project itself is (the same), yes. For licensing purposes. But it has been adapted. Before, capacities were presented of 42,000 at the opening and a final capacity of 66,000, and now we have 49,000 at opening and a final capacity of 70,000.
“The cost of a stadium, so that we are all clear, is measured in euros per seat. Considering a capacity of 70,000, which is what the stadium is designed for, the new Mestalla will be around €3,500 (£3,002/$3,693) to €4,000 per seat, a similar ratio to the new San Mamés or the Wanda Metropolitano, which are not exactly bad stadiums. It is not a ‘low cost’ stadium. It meets FIFA and UEFA requirements and for a country with the costs of Spain, it is a top level stadium.”
Mark Fenwick, the co-founder of Fenwick Iribarren Architects, the design studio behind the Nuevo Mestalla, was also present at yesterday’s event. He backed the new flexible capacity vision, adding that one of the main differences of the new stadium proposal is the different options for fans.
He also discussed one of the main design elements, the stadium roof. Fenwick said: “The roof has been designed by our engineers. It is supported on the outside of the stadium. It is light, with a compression ring. On this, we are going to create a solar cover.
“This roof is a ‘sound mirror,’ so that it bounces back all over the field. It is also a sustainable roof. The idea is that it will be the largest solar panelled roof in Europe. We have also worked to create a bat (Valencia’s symbol) visible above the Grada Oeste stand. It will be seen from the outside, but also from the inside.”
Valencia has previously said construction of the Nuevo Mestalla, for which €172m has already been invested, will reach €287m by its opening and will exceed €350m once the entire project is completed.
The club is hoping to restart construction work in October, but Schneider conceded that the delivery date for the Nuevo Mestalla is likely to slip. He added: “We would no longer be able to inaugurate in 2024, as was proposed months ago. It would be the summer of 2025.
“The transition must be done between seasons, as there are facilities that are not ours that belong to LaLiga, such as turnstiles or the Spider Cam, which would have to be moved and adapted. That is done in the summer between seasons.”
Images: Valencia CF