The Good, The Bad and The Unknown: La Liga Stadium Changes

Team 33 speak to ESPN and Radio Marca's Eduardo Alvarez about Atletico's move and more

Mestalla Stadium, Valencia, La Liga

General view of Valencia CF's Mestalla Stadium. Picture by John Walton EMPICS Sport

In just a few weeks time,  Atletico Madrid will play their last ever La Liga match at the stadium they have called home for 50 years.

For next season, they swap the Vicente Calderon which has witnessed multiple league winning campaigns (most recently in 2014) as well as Champions League football for the Wanda Metropolitano.

This map below shows how far they have to move from the city centre in comparison to their new expanded home ground. 

The current ground, Vicente Calderon is the mark furthest west, just south west of Madrid city centre, whereas if you zoom out a bit, you see how far East the Wanda Metropolitano is - all the way near Madrid's international airport on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.

On this week's Team 33, we had a look at the football stadium situation in Spain with our regular contributor Eduardo Alvarez of ESPN and Radio Marca and distance aside, in Atletico's case, the fans are generally satisfied with the move to a larger ground. 

You can listen into the full interview with Eduardo on the podcast player or on iTunes:

"In this case they're moving outside of the city and that's an inconvenience but the club will make a few hundreds of millions of euros with this move so they badly needed to change the stadium," Eduardo says, also explaining why there is little room for expansion on the grounds of their current stadium.

"Fans will eventually come to accept it. But what brought more controversy over this move was the change of name."

While the stadium will bring more revenue for Atletico, it won't cause much of a dent in the financial gulf between a club on the up and the big two of Real Madrid and Barcelona, who have their own stadium renovation plans.

And even if there are teething problems at some point, it would still be a vastly superior situation to the one experienced by La Liga rivals Valencia - a situation that has been both bad and ugly.

Currently, they are playing in their long time Mestalla home but in the mid-to-late 2000s had already started work on a new larger stadium known as the Nou Mestalla before they hit financial trouble and the bite of the property crash was felt in Spain as it was in Ireland.

The Mestalla in July 2009. Photo: Raf Diallo

"In Valencia, the situation was tragic. They wanted to do pretty much the same transaction as Atletico. Their ground was right in the centre of the city in a very expensive piece of real estate. So what they wanted to do was sell the ground and then move somewhere outside the city and make a hundreds of millions of euro in the process," says Eduardo.

"But the crash and the terrible management of Valencia's finances was a combination that killed the project. They started building [Nou Mestalla] in 2007, they stopped in 2009 and they've haven't done anything on the new stadium since then.

"They've spent a few hundreds of thousands of euro on the old Mestalla. They painted it black and decorated it with pictures of old players and it now looks a bit better than it used to. But the fact is that the Mestalla is a stadium from the 1930s and is really old and inadequate for European competitions and is something that Valencia will have to address sooner rather than later." 

In contrast, Athletic Bilbao's move from the historic old San Mames (colloquially known as La Catederal) literally next door to their new elite stadium the new San Mames has been a resounding success. 

Eduardo says: "That was a fantastically planned move. The move was almost next door. This one is a lot more comfortable and it still retains a good deal of the atmosphere of the old stadium."