San Mamés Stadium (1913)

San Mamés Stadium (Spanish: Estadio San Mamés [esˈtaðjo sam maˈmes]; also known as La Catedral [la kateˈðɾal], "The Cathedral"), was a football stadium in Bilbao, Biscay, Spain. The stadium was the home of Athletic Bilbao, known as Los Leones de San Mamés-Bilboko lehoiak (The Lions of San Mamés). They are known as Los Leones because their stadium was built near a church called San Mamés (Saint Mammes). Mammes was an early Christian, born in A.D. 259, who was thrown to the lions by the Romans.

San Mamés
La Catedral
San Mamés during a UEFA match
San Mamés before a Europa League tie, 2009
Full nameEstadio San Mamés
LocationBilbao, Spain
OwnerAthletic Bilbao
OperatorAthletic Bilbao
Field size105 x 68 m
Built20 January 1913
Opened21 August 1913
Renovated1952, 1982
Closed5 June 2013
Demolished6 June 2013
Construction cost50.000 ptas
ArchitectManuel Maria Smith

The club's new stadium, of the same name, was inaugurated on 16 September 2013.[3][4]


Opened in 1913, until its demolition it was Spain's oldest stadium (the oldest playing field being El Molinón)[5] a characteristic that gave rise to the nickname La Catedral (The Cathedral), together with its revered status as one of the nation's most important venues, the devotion shown by the team's followers who attended the matches, the site's religious heritage and the fact that the city itself did not have a cathedral for some years afterwards[6][7] (Santiago Cathedral did not receive the distinction until 1949). The nickname of the stadium is unconnected to the building that appears on the club crest, which is the Church of San Antón and its bridge, also featured on the Bilbao city coat of arms.

The first match at the stadium in August 1913 was a friendly between Athletic and Racing Club de Irún in a replay of the 1913 FEF Copa del Rey Final, which was the opening game of a triangular tournament also involving Shepherd's Bush F.C. The first goal was scored by the famous striker Pichichi.[8][9][10] A 50th anniversary tournament of the same nature was heid in 1963, with Athletic defeating Fulham and Sporting CP in high-scoring matches.[10][11][12]

San Mamés could seat almost forty thousand people and was renowned for the unique and boisterous atmosphere its crowds of devoted and loyal fans would create on match-days.[6][7][13][9]

The stadium was almost entirely rebuilt to host matches in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Athletic's opponents in friendly matches that year included the national teams of England[14][15] and Poland,[16] while in 1998 the visitors to San Mamés were World Cup holders Brazil marking Athletic's centenary.[17][18] Six Spain matches were played at the stadium between 1921 and 1967.[19] In contrast, the unofficial Basque Country team played 26 fixtures of various types at San Mamés between 1915 and 2011, and the Biscay team played there three times.

In March 2006, a project was approved to replace the stadium with a new and larger version, thereby increasing the stadium capacity to 53,000. The New San Mamés Stadium is built on the former site of the Bilbao International Trade Fair, adjacent to the current stadium. Construction began in April 2010, and after it was three quarters completed, Athletic Club moved into their new home and the original San Mamés was demolished.[4]

AC/DC's final concert of their Black Ice World Tour was held in the stadium, on 28 June 2010, it was the last gig of the legendary guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young.

Final monthsEdit

The last Athletic match in La Liga at the stadium was a 0–1 loss to Levante on 26 May 2013; the goalscorer was Juanlu in stoppage time.[20] Therefore the final Athletic scorer was Fernando Llorente in the previous home fixture against Mallorca. However, the last competitive game took place on 2 June 2013 when the reserve team Bilbao Athletic (who occasionally play important matches away from their small stadium at the club training ground) drew 2–2 with Levante's reserves in their promotion play-offs.[21]

The Estadio San Mamés in August 2006

On 5 June 2013, Athletic played a farewell friendly match at the stadium to mark its closure, against a Biscay XI (a team comprising players born in the province based with other clubs). Athletic introduced several old heroes back onto the field as substitutes in the later stages: Orbaiz, Guerrero, Andrinua, Dani and Iribar, while others were also in attendance including 94-year-old Rafael Iriondo. Several of the Biscay players had begun their careers at Athletic, such as Expósito, Arriaga, Azkorra, Tarantino and Unai Medina, plus Beñat and Etxeita who had both already agreed to rejoin the club. Bizkaia won 1–0, with the last goal being scored by Alain Arroyo.[22][23] In the days following the match, demolition of the stands began.[24] By the time of its official centenary date in August 2013, little remained of the old stadium as work intensified to clear the site and complete its replacement.[8]

The iconic arch over the main stand of the stadium (which originally supported its roof)[4] was preserved in the demolition and moved in several pieces to the club's training ground, Lezama,[9] where it was installed at the side of the pitch used by the reserves and women's team.[25][26]

Panoramic view.


1982 FIFA World CupEdit

The stadium was one of the venues of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, and held the following matches:

Date Team 1 Result Team 2 Round Attendance
16 June 1982 England   3–1   France Group 4 (first round) 44,172
20 June 1982 2–0   Czechoslovakia 41,123
25 June 1982 1–0   Kuwait 39,700


Concerts at San Mamés Stadium
Date Artist Tour Attendance
4 June 2011 Shakira The Sun Comes Out World Tour 25,000


  1. ^,
  2. ^,
  3. ^ Colocan la primera piedra en San Mamés Barria, Gara
  4. ^ a b c A new Cathedral: Athletic Club’s move to a new San Mamés, Simon Lloyd,
  5. ^ Estadio El Molinón, StadiumDB
  6. ^ a b San Mamés: The Stadium, Athletic Bilbao
  7. ^ a b San Mamés, la eterna Catedral del fútbol español (San Mamés, the eternal Cathedral of Spanish football), FIFA, 24 May 2013
  8. ^ a b "El viejo San Mamés cumpliría hoy cien años" [Old San Mamés would be 100 years old today] (in Spanish). El Mundo. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Athletic Bilbao's intoxicating spirit remains despite move next door, The Guardian, 17 September 2013
  10. ^ a b International Tournaments played in Bilbao 1913-1993, RSSSF, 29 November 2012
  11. ^ Athletic Club 4–3 Fulham , Athletic Bilbao
  12. ^ Athletic Club 6–4 Sporting CP, Athletic Bilbao
  13. ^ Centenary of history turns to rubble, ESPN, 18 July 2013
  14. ^ England matches: Testimonials, Clubs and Forces, England Football Online
  15. ^ Athletic Club 1–1 Inglaterra, Athletic Bilbao
  16. ^ Athletic Club 1–4 Polonia, Athletic Bilbao
  17. ^ Históricos de San Mamés VIII: Athletic - Brasil, la fiesta del centenario (Histories of San Mamés VIII: Athletic - Brazil, the centenary party), Vavel, 6 May 2013 (in Spanish)
  18. ^ Athletic Club 1–1 Brasil, Athletic Bilbao
  19. ^ International football matches hosted by Estadio de San Mamés, Bilbao,
  20. ^ "Juanlu hace el último gol de San Mamés: el Athletic, sin Europa" [Juanlu scores the last goal at San Mamés: no Europe for Athletic] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Bilbao Athletic 2-2 Atlético Levante" (in Spanish). RFEF. 2 June 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Broche de oro en San Mamés: Iribar jugó los últimos minutos" [Gold pin in San Mamés: Iribar played the last minutes] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Athletic 0-1 Bizkaia" (in Spanish). Athletic Club. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Las grúas empiezan con el derribo de la fachada de San Mamés" [The cranes begin the demolition of the facade of San Mamés] (in Spanish). El Desmarque. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  25. ^ "El arco de San Mamés ya está instalado en Lezama" [The arch from San Mamés has been installed at Lezama]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 18 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  26. ^ "El arco ya ilumina las instalaciones de Lezama" [The arch illuminates the Lezama facilities]. El Desmarque (in Spanish). 14 October 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2017.

External linksEdit

43°15′48.62″N 2°56′54.21″W / 43.2635056°N 2.9483917°W / 43.2635056; -2.9483917