Atletico confident of stadium move
Atletico Madrid say they are still set to move into new stadium ‘La Peineta’ in time for the 2016-17 season.
It had been thought that redevelopment work to turn the former 20,000-capacity athletics stadium into an ultra-modern 69,000-seat football ground might slow after Madrid’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics failed last weekend.
But Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin told journalists visiting the site that the €160 million project remained on track.
"We intend to finish work during the 2015-16 season and to be in the new stadium by July 1 of that year to play the 2016-17 season there," Gil Marin said.
"Atletico Madrid owns the stadium. There is no reason for doubt or uncertainty about whether FCC [the builders] can complete the work on time."
The news that Madrid had lost out in a bid to host the Olympics on a third successive occasion had been a disappointment, but the development work will continue, said Atletico president Enrique Cerezo.
"It has not been possible for us to make this visit [to the ground site] with Madrid as 2020 Olympics host, as all madrilenos would have wanted," Cerezo said. "[But] we want to show to everyone the state of the ongoing work, what has been done up until now, and what will be done from now on."
Colchoneros fans used to similarly upbeat statements from their club’s senior figures may remain sceptical of the timeframe being laid out by Gil Marin and Cerezo. Atletico first announced plans to move in 2007, when they signed a land deal with the Madrid town hall and brewers Mahou to develop a 30-storey tower on the site of the Calderon and a beer factory which sat nearby.
It was originally said that Atletico could be playing at La Peineta by 2011, but work there did not begin until that year, while legal objections to the three-way deal have reached Spain’s supreme court.
Supporters' groups have long maintained that a redevelopment of the currently crumbling Calderon would be a cheaper and better option for the club, which remains about €400 million in debt.
The Mahou factory has been demolished and the site remains vacant, while the original project to build hundreds of apartments has been scaled down considerably with Spain’s housing market bubble long burst.