14 November 2007
By Javier Palomino
Photo by Realmadrid.com
Translation by Matthew Goltz
It’s official. UEFA has given the Santiago Bernabéu “Elite Stadium” status, an essential condition for hosting European finals such as that of the Champions League. The Club is extremely pleased with the recognition after years of hard work. It’s the perfect present for a modern and functional stadium that will turn 60-years old in one month.
Elite Stadium status (formerly called 5-Star) enables a stadium to host the finals of the UEFA European Football Championship and the UEFA Champions League. They can also host the final of the UEFA Cup. All have seated capacities in excess of 50,000 spectators and meet a number of additional quality criteria. UEFA officials visited the Bernabéu on numerous occasions in recent years and got a first-hand look at the transformation it has undergone.
One major change required by UEFA was moving the Presidential Balcony to the East Stand in order to be in the same area as the press zone and the dressing rooms. Other novelties such as the Multipurpose Building, its parking lot, the new store, panoramic elevators, and the new press room and player reception area were also taken into consideration and were approved by a UEFA commission, who last visited the stadium on 24 October for the Champions League match against Olympiacos. After reviewing all the criteria, UEFA’s Stadia and Security Committee publicly named the Santiago Bernabéu an Elite Stadium, thus joining a list that already includes Allianz Arena, Amsterdam Arena, Stade de France, and Hampden Park.
Now that the Club can host a Champions League final, the Santiago Bernabéu will compete against the New Wembley and the Olympiastadion in Berlin for the final of the 2010 competition. The winner will be announced in March 2008.