This month of September, the current San Mames reached its first 10 years of life. We will review some of the milestones of this first decade of a stadium awarded at the World Design Awards 2020 with the highest distinction in the category of Sports and Recreational Facilities.
New San Mames: 10 years of milestones
After the former San Mames reached a century of life and demanded the construction of a new stadium according to the needs of safety, attendance and comfort of the Athletic fans, and the general public, the new San Mames opened in the 2013/2014 season.
Its performance and spectacularity were soon recognised internationally. In 2015, San Mames was chosen as the world’s best new sports building at the World Architecture Festival held in Singapore, then as the world’s best football stadium of the year at the World Football Summit 2017 Awards and, finally, it won the highest distinction in the category of Sports and Recreational Facilities at the World Design Awards 2020, annual awards granted by the prestigious organization The Architecture Community.
Feats at the new San Mames
In purely sporting terms, the first match at the new San Mames was a clash against RC Celta de Vigo on 16 September 2013, which ended in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory for the Lions. In those early matches, one of the stands had not been completed yet.
The new stadium was impregnable for visiting teams for several months. In fact, the first visitor team to win was Atletico de Madrid, beating Athletic Club 1-2 in a cup match played on 29 January 2014.
The first defeat in La Liga did not happen until matchday 24, when R. C. D. Espanyol won 1-2 on 16 February 2014.
The new San Mames also witnessed the Lions’ last Champions adventure so far, during the 2014/15 season, when they defeated Napoli on a magical night with a full house for the first time, and the stadium drove the team forward. Hamsik scored on the stroke of halftime, but a double from Aduriz and a goal from Ibai set the final 3-1 on the scoreboard, providing the ticket for Athletic’s entry into the group stage.
Two years after its opening, San Mames witnessed a 4-0 victory over FC Barcelona in the first leg of that year’s Super Cup. The subsequent 1-1 draw at Camp Nou allowed the Lions to win the trophy for the second time, which they would win again in 2021.
Last April San Mames set an attendance record. A record that was reached in the cup match against Osasuna, which was attended by 51,544 spectators, 1,803 more than for the previous record, which took place on 12 March 2023, against FC Barcelona.
San Mames has also been a reference point for women’s football. In fact, in January 2019, 48,121 fans gathered at the red and white stadium to witness a cup clash between Athletic Club and Atletico de Madrid, which made this match register the highest number of attendees for a women’s football match in Spain until then.
Apart from football, the highest attendance at the new Bilbao stadium dates back to 14 May 2018, when up to 52,282 rugby lovers enjoyed the Champions Cup final between Irish Leinster Rugby and French Racing 92.
On 30 May 2017, the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses gave the first concert in the current San Mames. The following year, the stadium hosted the ‘MTV World Stage Bilbao’ on 3 November, with a line-up that included Muse, Crystal Fighters and Berri Txarrak. A show that brought together 38,000 people and which served as a preview of the ‘MTV EMAs Bilbao’.
And just a few days later, on 11 June, Fito, one of the most successful Bilbao artists of all time, gave a record-breaking concert in San Mames. The show brought together 47,000 dedicated fans, lasted more than two and a half hours and was broadcast by RTVE, ETB and Youtube, among other media and platforms, with an audience that reached over one million people. A historic and multitudinous concert in which San Mames showed how to be a great host.
Furthermore, in July 2022, the Bilbao Bizkaia Rock Day took place in San Mames, in front of 40,000 people, headed by the North American Metallica band.
The current San Mames also offers unique experiences for those who come to the stadium. From the possibility of getting to know the 125 years of Athletic Club’s history in AC Museoa, to buying a red and white gift item in the shop located in the stadium itself, or getting your strength up in San Mames Jatetxea, La Campa de los Ingleses or Geuria restaurants.
Similarly, when it comes to watching a match, you have the option of experiencing a match like never before thanks to San Mames BAT, The Lion Experience or Sky Box on a match day. And it also makes it possible to hold all kind of events in its different premises.
In addition, the new San Mames can host major international sporting events. Thus, this stadium will be the venue for the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in May 2024 and the UEFA Europe League final in 2025.