Design & Development

Rafael de la-Hoz, Gensler land contract to transform Estadio Benito Villamarín

Images: Real Betis

Rafael de la-Hoz and Gensler have seen off competition from six rival proposals to land the contract to design a complete overhaul of Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarín – a project that aims to create a new icon for the Spanish city of Seville.

The proposal made by the Spanish architecture firm and the American studio will develop this key project for the LaLiga club’s growth under its Strategic Plan 2022-26 after winning an international competition launched by Betis on March 7.

The club received 30 proposals in the initial phase, 11 national and 19 international, of which seven, after presenting the required documentation, reached the final phase in May. The final shortlist also included proposals from:

  • AFL Architects and Ayesa
  • Fenwick & Iribarren, MC2 and SBP
  • IDOM and SV60
  • L35, KSS, Argenia and Ines Ingeniería
  • Lamela, Eddea and Buro Happold
  • Populous, HCP and IDEAM

The seven finalists presented their candidacies in June, with the final appointment being announced yesterday (Thursday). Betis’ board of administrators decided on the Rafael de la-Hoz/Gensler proposal as the best way to proceed with its vision of transforming the Benito Villamarín, which first opened in 1929, into one of the “referential football venues” at a national level.

The new complex will boost club revenue through a new stadium concept that is designed to be open and modern, along with increasing the commercial activity of the club throughout the whole year through the addition of new spaces.

The design will widen the entertainment and hospitality offer on match days, before, during and after games, and also on days without sporting events. The new-look stadium is intended to become a prominent leisure and events centre, with an auditorium of 450 seats, and also an important tourist attraction for Seville.

In spite of the conceptual changes, the revamp will seek to preserve the essence and spirit of Real Betis and its fans while boosting the atmosphere and fan experience by increasing the number of services and comfort levels.

The new Benito Villamarín will have capacity for 60,379 spectators, on a similar footing to its current capacity. The current Preferencia Stand (West Stand) will be demolished and rebuilt, with capacity for 15,754 seats (11,533 regular seats, 4,023 premium seats and 180 seats in the Presidential Box).

The other three stands will not be demolished, but will instead undergo substantial changes that will have an impact on the comfort and fan experience. The project also includes the installation of a roof over the four stands and a new façade that will radically change the current look with an architectural proposal that will surround the stadium with the 13 stripes of the club badge.

The stadium will have 4,436 premium ticketing seats available, 7.3% of the total capacity. Of these, 30% will be a VIP model (private hospitality) and 70% a club model (shared hospitality). The design has flexibility to increase these numbers in case of higher demand.

The restaurant offer will be another of the pillars of the fan experience enhancement, both on match days and on every other week day. There will a wide variety of food selling points in the venue, and a 360-degree corridor on the lower stand where different food concepts will be offered, such as the ‘Green Market’.

Among the experiences included in the design will be a rooftop and sky lounge, an offering located on top of the new Preferencia Stand with hospitality options and a view of the city.

The new Benito Villamarín will also implement aspects deemed important for the city. Quality public spaces, with a main square, greenery, pedestrian areas and leisure options will be introduced; along with services and equipment, with new underground parking lots and commercial areas that will increase the activity in the area during the whole year.

Building on Betis’ ‘Forever Green’ venture, the club said the new stadium will be one of the first in Europe to have environmental certification with a design focused on energy optimisation. The design will include areas for persons with reduced mobility as well, with more than 500 places and spaces specially designed for an enhanced view of the games.

Rafael de la-Hoz, founder of Rafael de la-Hoz Arquitectos, said: “We had been waiting for the opportunity to work on an urban stadium for some time and we have achieved it in the best of possible scenarios, socially linking a mythical sports venue like the Benito Villamarín with the public space of a legendary city like Seville.

“This is not just a stadium transformation project to turn it into a cutting-edge infrastructure, but also an urban insertion project in an environment such as Avenida de La Palmera and the Heliopolis neighbourhood. All of this makes it especially interesting.”

Real Betis president, Ángel Haro, said the stadium revamp will be a “historical” project that will be a turning point in the future of the club. He added: “This is the first fundamental step for the club’s future and one of the cornerstones of our strategic plan.

“Real Betis will have a quality stadium that will make all the Béticos proud, with comfortable facilities and great services. The Nuevo Villamarín will be a national and even international reference, with an innovative business model that will allow us to take a big leap forward in revenue, and that will help us to keep growing. And, of course, an added value to the city.

“The City Hall sees it as a project for the citizens, too. We want to congratulate Rafael de la-Hoz and Gensler for their project, and all the other candidates for the excellence they showed in their works. It has been a tough decision because all the projects were exceptional.”

Betis will now start working alongside Rafael de la-Hoz and Gensler on the basic project and, later, the execution proposal to obtain the permits for construction, which is expected to begin next summer.

The project is expected to cost approximately €70m (£59.8m/$76.1m), with a targeted completion date of June 2026.