San Mames Stadium: La Catedral | Official Athletic Club Website

The stadium

A unique club, a different stadium

The old San Mamés stadium, La Catedral, was an icon of football, an ambassador of a whole region, and a philosophy for 100 years. The atmosphere at the ground was truly extraordinary, and the opponents, despite visiting a rival ground, enjoyed playing there and appreciated the authentic atmosphere which was created, so much so that it was said that you could just about ‘breathe football’. But real football.

The new ground embraced the enormous challenge of transmitting these qualities and specific values; of transferring the old values of San Mamés, its atmosphere, its respect, its passion, its pressure, and not only that, it had to remodel itself into a modern stadium, accessible, state-of-the-art, comfortable, marketable, and suited to modern times.  And it had to be built in the same place as the old stadium. Indeed, the location was a must.

The old San Mamés undoubtedly served as benchmark that was vital to the world of football and was considered legendary at an international level. For this, it became known by the nickname with which it ultimately went down in history: La Catedral. It was inaugurated in 1913 in the same place where, a hundred years later, the current stadium stands, proud of its legacy, and as such, still the same ‘Catedral’. With a capacity of 53,000 spectators, it has been designed according to the most exacting standards, those of the UEFA Elite Category.

Awarded the prize for the best sports building in the world at the World Architecture Festival in 2015, the new stadium has become an icon of the city landscape and has been able to create new atmosphere redolent of the past. The stands have been designed in the optimum way to bring the fans as close to the pitch as possible.

One of the biggest challenges we faced in the new project is that of marketability and the generating of an income whilst respecting the ‘rules of the game of Athletic Club’, in other words, looking after the feelings of the club members, respecting tradition, and working in line with the values of the region.

The complex also includes:

  • Museum
  • Official Club Shop
  • 2 restaurants
  • 6,000 m2 for events, meetings, and conferences
Full tour San Mamés

The visit to the museum would be missing something if you did not complete
it with a guided tour through the bowels of the San Mamés stadium, known as The Cathedral of football.


The design conditions, as well as those of comfort, security, accessibility, and the services offered, have led UEFA to classify San Mamés as a Category 4 Elite Stadium, the highest possible classification granted by UEFA, enabling it to host major football events such as finals of European competitions.


On the 11th and 12th May 2017, ‘La Catedral’ hosted the Challenge Cup and the Champions Cup, the most important team tournaments in Europe. Both matches were broadcast to 115 countries and attended by 340 accredited media professionals. The European Profesional Club Rugby (EPCR) was most satisfied with the results.


Special attention to the means of access and traffic flow, the security conditions and comfort, its capacity and modernity, and its integration into the urban fabric of Bilbao led UEFA to choose San Mamés as one of the venues for the 2020 European Football Championship.


The lighting of the facade of San Mamés is undoubtedly one of the defining features of the new ground and deserves a special mention. The LED dynamic lighting system offers breathtaking possibilities depending on the event which is being held in the stadium. The ETFE panels which make up the facade can change their colour from white to any conceivable combination of colours or shapes.

Not only that, San Mamés is also the first football stadium in Europe to be awarded LEED certification for sustainable building design – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – the world’s leading green building rating system.

Access conditions to the field

For information around access conditions to the field, please click here.

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