Spanish Segunda Division football club Real Zaragoza has today (Friday) presented plans for a €140m (£121.8m/$152.5m) project that would expand the Estadio La Romareda to a capacity of 42,500 in an effort to be part of the country’s joint bid with Portugal for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
The plans, which have been drawn up by Spanish consulting, engineering and architecture company IDOM, have been presented today to tie in with the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) deadline of May 12 to submit required documentation for venues aspiring to be part of the World Cup.
Zaragoza City Council owns La Romareda and is currently running a public tender process for the stadium which is due to close in September. The plans presented today are therefore intended to be preliminary in nature and can be modified in the final draft.
Today’s news comes after the Mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón, in January confirmed that the City Council was willing to accept Real’s demands for a long-term concession deal as a basis to develop a new stadium on the site of the existing La Romareda.
Zaragoza City Council in July voted in favour of proceeding with efforts to draw up plans for a new stadium. The proposal was with an eye towards La Romareda becoming a host venue for the World Cup. Earlier in the month, La Romareda was included on a 15-venue shortlist revealed by the RFEF.
Eleven venues in Spain are expected to be used if the joint bid is successful. A further three stadiums will be used in Portugal. With a current capacity of around 33,000, La Romareda first opened in 1957 and hosted three games during Spain’s staging of the 1982 World Cup, but is widely considered in need of renovation.
The plans drawn up IDOM have been inspired by one of the defining characteristics of Zaragoza and the wider Aragon region – the ‘cierzo’ – a strong, dry and usually cold wind that blows through the area.
The stadium itself, and especially the roof, have been “forged by the wind” as dynamic and fluid elements that aim to make the new La Romareda one of the most identifiable and recognisable sports venues in Europe.
“Paying attention to the flows of the Cierzo, we have weathered the stadium and the roof, modelling them as fluid and dynamic elements,” said César Azcárate, director of sports and events at IDOM.
“The project draws concave shapes in the north and south areas of the stadium, providing greater amplitude to the urban space, and convex shapes in the east and west areas, showing the Plaza de Eduardo Ibarra and the Paseo de Isabel la Católica.”
Real Zaragoza executive general director, Raúl Sanllehí, added: “With this draft, we unveil our proposal so that Zaragoza residents, citizens of Zaragoza and all of Aragon feel proud of an iconic sports venue that will be recognisable throughout the world.”
Construction work will be carried out in phases, ensuring Real will be able to continue playing at the stadium while redevelopment is taking place. It is hoped that work can commence in the summer of 2024, however the El Periódico de Aragón notes that the stadium’s future could yet be determined by long-standing tension between the Government of Aragon and the Zaragoza City Council concerning the venue.
Sanllehí today admitted that his “concern” for the “risk” that the operation may end up in court, stressing that Real is an “apolitical” football club that represents the “diversity of the fans”.
Sanllehí said: “This project is much more, it’s not just for Real Zaragoza. It’s also for Zaragoza and Aragón and the city has to be one of the venues for the 2030 World Cup.”