San Mames Stadium, also known as La Catedral is a football stadium in Bilbao, Spain. It is home to Athletic Bilbao who are nicknamed Los Leones de San Mamés-Bilboko lehoiak, which means The Lions of San Mames. When opened, the stadium had a capacity to hold 40,000 spectators.
San Mames was established in 1913, making it the oldest stadium in Spain until its demolition in 2013. The first match in the stadium was played between Athletic Bilbao and Racing Club de Irun in a replay of the 1913 FEF Copa del Rey Final. The first goal was scored by striker Pichichi.
In 2006, it was decided to replace the stadium with a new one adjacent to the older one. The work started in 2010 and the stadium was completely destroyed in 2013. On June 5th 2013, Athletic played a friendly with Bizkaia XI marking the closure of the stadium.
The roof over the main stand was preserved in the demolition and was taken to the players training ground in the new stadium as memory. The new stadium was partially completed and opened on 16 September 2013.
After the completion of the work, the capacity of the new stadium was 53,000.The first match was played between Athletic Bilbao and Napoli in a Champions League tie which Bilbao won 3-1. In August 2017 club museum was opened at the stadium.
The stadium was one of the host of the 1982 FIFA World Cup matches. San Mames, along with Valladolid hosted the group four matches. San Mames hosted all matches of England.
In total Bilbao hosted three matches of the 1982 World Cup which featured in all 3 matches. England won all the matches. San Mames was one among the 17 stadiums to host the World Cup where Italy won 3-1 against West Germany.
The stadium is selected as one of the venues to host the 2020 Euro Cup matches, including a round of 16 match. It is also announced as venue for 2018 finals of European Rugby Challenge Cup and Champions Cup.
In 2013, European Commissioner dismissed claims that he personally ensured that Athletic Bilbao’s new stadium was omitted from the list of issues to be investigated for illegal state aid.
It was expected that over 100 million euros of public money was provided by the state to build the new San Mames stadium. It was announced that the stadium would be investigated but was not included in the document published by EC thereby sparking controversy.
Athletic Bilbao last hosted Real Sociedad in a La Liga match on Dec 16 which ended 0-0. Athletic Bilbao’s fixture against Real Madrid was also a draw.
It is selected as one of the venues to host the 2020 Euro Cup matches, including a round of 16 match. It is also announced as venue for 2018 finals of European Rugby Challenge Cup and Champions Cup.