SAN MAMES BARRIA
On 10 December 1912, Athletic Club held an Extraordinary General Meeting with the purpose of approving the construction of a new stadium on rented grounds along the extension of the Gran Via, adjacent to the San Mamés asylum, in the suburbs of Bilbao.
For the construction of the field, 50,000 pesetas were considered necessary (302 €), in view of which management resorted to borrowing from a small group of personalities and members in general. By means of popular subscription a great number of fans contributed funds for a total of 40,770 pesetas (245.60 €), with which construction began rather promptly.
On 20 January 1913, construction work began directed by the famous architect Manuel Maria Smith, author of the San Mamés Stadium project. Seven months later the new English style ground was a splendid reality. It had a capacity for more than seven thousand spectators, of which three thousand were comfortably seated in a magnificent wooden grandstand.
On Thursday, 21 August 1913 at 17:15 hours the first match was hosted in San Mamés, between the Spanish champion Racing Club of Irun and Athletic Club. The ball was kicked-off at 17:00. Just five minutes later, Pichichi scored the first goal in La Catedral.
Years later, in 1945, Athletic acquires the ownership of the stadium lands.
Throughout its history, San Mamés has undergone multiple structural modifications. The most significant and that which provided the element that characterizes it, the mythic arc, dates back to 1953. The improvements of the Main grandstand carried out by the team of architects Domínguez Salazar, Magdalena Gayán, de Miguel González, and the engineer Fernandez Casado, were innovative back then; it was the first time that an arc typology was used in a sports structure, besides being the biggest reinforce concrete roof in Europe.
Later on, the rest of the stands were added: 1956 the South, 1962 the North and in 1972 the East.
In 1982, on the occasion of the World Cup, in which Bilbao was one of the venues, San Mamés experienced its last great transformation, remaining with the current design. Back then, the stadium had a capacity for 46,000 spectators, later reduced to the current 40,000 spectators after the adaptation of the UEFA security regulations.
The more than 95 years that San Mamés counts with, makes it one of the oldest stadiums and with greater entity in Europe. The memorable attitude of the fans: respectful, with an exemplary behavior and an almost religious passion when it comes to the team, determined that it be nicknamed La Catedral.