The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is an all-seater football stadium in Madrid, Spain. It was inaugurated on 14 December 1947 and is owned by Real Madrid Club de Fútbol. It has a current capacity of 85,454 spectators.
El Bernabéu, renamed in honour of their former chairman Santiago Bernabéu Yeste, is one of the world's most famous and prestigious football venues. It has hosted the European Cup final on four occasions: in 1957, 1969, 1980, and the UEFA Champions League Final in 2010. The finals for the 1964 European Nations' Cup and the 1982 FIFA World Cup have also been held at the Bernabéu.
On 22 June 1944, the Banco Mercantil e Industrial bank granted a credit to Santiago Bernabéu and Rafael Salgado for the purchase of the land adjacent to the old Estadio Chamartín. On 5 September 1944, architects Manuel Muñoz Monasterio and Luis Alemany Soler were hired and the structure on the site began to give way to the new stadium. On 27 October 1944, construction work on the stadium began.
The Nuevo Estadio Chamartín was inaugurated on 14 December 1947 with a match between Real Madrid and the Portuguese side Os Belenenses, which resulted in a 3–1 victory for Los Blancos. The stadium had an initial capacity of 75,145 spectators, 27,645 of which had seats (7,125 covered) and 47,500 for standing fans. Sabino Barinaga was the first player to score in the new stadium.
The first major renovation occurred in 1955. On 19 June of that year, the stadium expanded to accommodate 125,000 spectators. Thus, the Madrid coliseum became the biggest stadium of all the participants of the newly established European Cup.
On 4 January 1955, after the General Assembly of Members Compromisaros, it was decided that the stadium adopt its present name in honour of club President Santiago Bernabéu.
The next big changes did not occur until the early 1980s with the hosting of the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. The stadium had to adapt to the changing times and with this, architects Rafael Luis Alemany and Manuel Salinas were hired for the stadium's renovation project. The brothers were sons of Luis Alemany Alemany Soler, who carried out the original construction project next to Muñoz Monasterio.
The improvements included a number of points. First, FIFA forced two-thirds of the seating area to be covered. For this reason, Real Madrid installed a roof covering the perimeter of the first and second tiers of seating, except the east side. The stadium's capacity was reduced from 120,000 to 90,800 spectators, 24,550 of which were covered by the new roof. The project also involved remodeling the façade, the installation of new electronic signs in the north and south ends, as well as the renovation of the press areas, lockers rooms, access, and ancillary areas.
The stadium hosted four matches in the World Cup: three second-round Group Two matches (West Germany vs. England, West Germany vs. Spain, and Spain vs. England) and the final between Italy and West Germany.
In the mid-1980s, UEFA introduced new safety standards due to increased violence in the stadiums of Europe. The stadium was forced to create separate shortcuts to different stadium sections and seats for all spectators. In the 1990s, the Santiago Bernabéu went through a large expansion and remodeling. The board of Ramón Mendoza awarded the project to Gines Navarro Construcciones, S.A.
The work started on 7 February 1992 and concluded on 7 May 1994 with a final cost of more than five billion pesetas, substantially raising the debt of the club, having no institutional support.
The work concluded with the creation of an amphitheater on the west side and in the foundations, coupled with the existing building by using hydraulic jacks.
In total, 20,200 upgraded seats were installed, with each seat having a tilt of 87 degrees, ensuring a perfect view and proximity to the pitch. In addition, to access the new ring, four entrance towers were erected on the outside, each with two staircases and a central spiral ramp.
When Florentino Pérez became the president of Real Madrid, he launched a plan with one goal: to improve the comfort of the Santiago Bernabéu and the quality of its facilities, and maximise revenue for the stadium.
Pérez invested €127 million in five years (2001–2006) by adding an expansion to the east side of the stadium, as well adding a new façade on Father Damien street, new costumes, new boxes and VIP areas, a new stage in honour of the east side, a new press area (also located on the east side), a new audio system, new bars, integration of heating in the stands, panoramic lifts, new restaurants, escalators in the tower access, and implementation of the multipurpose building in Father Damien street.
Following the enlargement of the lateral east side and the creation of new galleries, the capacity of the Santiago Bernabéu was 80,354, all seated.
The last change was an increase to a capacity of 85,454, effected in 2011.