San Mamés: Athletic Bilbao

Rafael Moreno Pitxitxi Kalea, Bilbao, Bizkaia, 48013, Spain
By Euskaldunaa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When talking of the home ground of Athletic Bilbao it’s important not to get confused between the San Mamés Stadium and the San Mamés Stadium. The former is the current ground which opened in 2013 and was a direct replacement for the older stadium of the same name. It cost around €211 million to build, with more than half of that being paid for by the public. It was built on ground that was located right next door to the original stadium and had been occupied by the Bilbao International Trade Fair until 2003.

Interestingly the stadium was opened in phases. The first phase saw three-quarters of it opened in order to allow Bilbao to play football games there whilst the old ground was knocked down. The destruction of the old stadium created room for the remainder of the new one. The new San Mamés won the Sports Building of the Year award at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore in November of 2015. No surprise, then, that it was chosen as one of the venues that will host the 2020 European Championship when the tournament is held throughout Europe.

Stats

San Mamés Stats
Year Opened2013
Capacity53,289
Average Attendance41,983
Record Attendance49,017 (Athletic Bilbao v Napoli (2014))
Pitch Size105 x 68 (7140)
NicknameSan Mamés
OwnerSan Mamés Barria, S.L.
Clubs HostedAthletic Bilbao, Athletic Bilbao B
Final FixtureAthletic Bilbao v Celta Vigo (16/09/2013)
Athletico Bilbao Stats
Year Founded1898
NicknameLos Leones / Lehoiak (The Lions) Rojiblancos / Zuri-gorriak (Red-Whites)
Club MascotHarrotxu
RivalsReal Sociedad, Real Madrid
Previous StadiumsSan Mamés
KitRed, White & Black (Home) / Green (Away)
Training GroundLezama Facilities
Shirt SponsorKutxabank
Team OwnerMembership
Record GoalscorerTelmo Zarra (367)
Record AppearancesJosé Ángel Iribar (614)

San Mamés Photos

San Mamés Seating Plan & Where to Sit

By Javier Mendia García [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As is the case with most modern European stadia, the San Mamés has a bowl of continuous seating that runs around the perimeter of the pitch. This is a marked change from what you might be used to in England, where each stand is usually its own structure and there is one for each side of the pitch. Here’s a guide to each section:

  • Tribuna Principal - As the name suggests, this is considered to be the main stand in the stadium. It contains the dugouts, the players’ tunnel the dressing rooms and more.
  • Tribuna Norte - Like the rest of the ground, it has a two tiered structure with each tier separated by a section of executive seating. Located behind the Northern goal, this stand is where the most ardent Bilbao fans congregate.
  • Tribuna Este - Located directly opposite the Tribuna Principal and with a similar design, the left hand edge of the upper tier was part of the ground that was not finished until the old stadium was demolished.
  • Tribuna Sur - The South Stand is almost identical to the its Northern counterpart. Much like the Tribuna Este, the righthand side of the upper level wasn’t built when the ground opened for the first time in 2013.

Athletico Bilbao Ticket Prices

Athletico Bilbao is a club that follows the same sort of model as Barcelona and is owned in part by the supporters. These ‘members’ get tickets at a special price, with the general public asked to pay more. How much you’ll have to pay will depend entirely on your age and where in the stadium you’d like to sit.

Seats in the Tribuna Principal will set you back between €40 and €110 if you’re an adult, for example. If you’d rather go in the Sur Baja of the Tribuna Norte then you’ll pay from €30 up to around €60. The cheapest tickets are the same price of €30 in the Tribune Norte Sur Alta, but the most expensive ones go up to €80. You’ll be able to get a discount if you’re a concession, but how much of a discount isn’t clear.

How To Get Athletico Bilbao Tickets

Without question the best place to get tickets is via the club’s official website. Rather problematically, however, they don’t go on sale until two days before the game. If you’re in the city and don’t have internet access then you can get tickets from the stadium itself or via the ATMs of any kutxabanks that you find around the place.

Getting To San Mamés

Swap Start/End

Bilbao is in the Basque region of Spain, in the Northern part of the country. Here are some of the usual methods you might chose to use to get there and then to the stadium itself:

Train - Getting a train from London to Bilbao will take about thirteen hours. You’ll go from the English capital to the French one before transferring onto an internal train to Bayona. You’ll then get a bus that will take you across the border to Bilbao.

When it comes to making your way to the stadium you’ll want to either get a mainline train to Estación de Abando Indalecio Prieto or else get a Metro to San Mamés Station, which is right by the ground.

Bus - There are over forty bus routes in operation in the city of Bilbao. The BAI, DG01, DG02, DO01 and DO03 services all call close to the San Mamés Stadium with others likely available if you’re willing to speak to locals.

Car - Travel on the A8 motorway until you see Exit 117. It will be obvious where you’re going from there, but keep your eyes peeled either for the stadium itself or signs to it.

By Air - Bilbao Airport is just shy of ten miles from the city centre. You can get the bus from there to the centre of town easily enough.

Taxi - A taxi from Bilbao centre to the ground will only take about five minutes and shouldn’t cost you more than six or seven Euro.

Parking Near San Mamés

There’s no car parking for the general public, with the car park at the ground taken up by VIPs and club guests. Given the stadium is so close to the centre of Bilbao your best bet is to park there and walk in.

San Mamés Hotels

Bilbao is a lovely city is the heart of the Basque region of Spain. Consequently there are plenty of hotels to choose from when you visit for the football. Here’s some of our top choices:

Zenit Bilbao - £55+

C/ Autonomía, 58, Bilbao, Vizcaya, 48012
The Zenit is a four-star hotel that has a restaurant and a bar. It is located about fifteen minutes away from the Guggenheim Museum, arguably Bilbao’s most famous landmark. It’s also around half a mile from the stadium and offers self-parking, a business centre and free Wi-Fi. More details.

Barceló Bilbao Nervión - £70+

Paseo Campo Volantin 11, Bilbao, Vizcaya, 48007
About a mile from the ground is this member of the Barceló chain of hotels. It has 350 rooms, so there’s a fair chance that you’ll be able to stay there if you’d like to. There’s a fitness centre, a conference room and a restaurant, as well as a bar and self-parking. Should you be the sort of person that like to get online then you’ll be pleased to know there’s free Wi-Fi. More details.

Hotel Miro - £90+

Alameda Mazarredo 77, Bilbao, Vizcaya, 48009
The Hotel Miro is just five minutes from the Guggenheim and around half a mile from the San Mamés. It offers free Wi-Fi, has a 24-hour fitness centre and a spa. There’s a bar area for you to have a relaxing drink in after the match, too. More details.

Pubs & Bars Near San Mamés

Spain is always good for a drink, with sangria flowing and paella ready to be eaten at any given moment. Here are some of our favourite places for a pre-match pint:

Building Kirol & Bar

Urkixo Zumarkalea, 73, 48013, Bilbao (+34 944 05 69 15)
The Kirol is the definition of a sports bar, with loads of different TVs dotted around the place covering as many sports as possible. If they’re not showing the event you want to watch then just ask the bar staff and they’ll put it on for you if they can. As well as numerous drinks you’ll also be able to get a bite to eat if you fancy one.

El Dinamico

Poza Lizentziatuaren Kalea, 45, 48009, Bilbao (+34 944 97 87 43)
Not a sports bar, but well worth a visit anyway. El Dinamico promises the best homemade burger in all of Bilbao. By ‘homemade’ we’re assuming they mean made on the premises as opposed to made at the chef’s house and then brought in, but you never know. Loads of drinks are available here and there’s a good atmosphere, too.

Peña Athletic Casco Viejo

Pelota Kalea, 7, 48005, Bilbao (+34 944 15 00 81)
Founded in 1973 by a group of Athletic Bilbao supporters, La Peña Athletic de Bilbao is a restaurant with an unashamedly Bilbao twist. There’s plenty of memorabilia dotted around the place and, of course, they show every match live. The food is delicious and and there are plenty of drink options for you, too.

Facilities

The stadium is classed as ‘Elite’ by UEFA, so that should give you some idea of what to expect from your visit there. The views are great from all over the stadium, there are brilliant concourses that are wide and safe and there are also numerous locations where you can buy a drink or a bite to eat.

Hospitality

By BMR & MAM (Bilbao by night) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a whole row of VIP seating that runs around the perimeter of the pitch and separates the two tiers of the stadium. On top of that there are numerous lounges and rooms that welcome those supporters who enjoy a hospitality experience. For more information on exactly what you can expect from your visit your best bet is to contact the club directly.

Private Hire

Much like with the hospitality packages, if you’d like to know what conferences and meetings you can host at the San Mamés then drop the club a line. What we can tell you is that there are a number of conference rooms and boxes that can host anything from a small-scale meeting through to a full on presentation.

Stadium Tours & Museum

At the time of writing it is not possible to do a tour of the stadium due to the fact that it is having a roof put on it. The old stadium could be toured around, however, so we expect this to change in the near future. You can do a tour of the club’s Lezama training facilities that are about ten miles out of the city centre.

About Athletico Bilbao

By Zarateman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Los Leones, or The Lions, are one of the most interesting teams in the world. Not simply because of what they’ve achieved but because of how they’ve achieved it. since its foundation there has been an unwritten rule that the club would follow a cantera policy, which insisted on only players either born or trained in the Basque region featuring in the team. That means that they have limited themselves somewhat considerably when it comes to the players that they can field in matches, yet it has never held them back and they are one of only three sides who founded the Primera División in Spain and have never been relegated from it.

Athletic Bilbao have won La Liga eight times, making them the fourth most successful team in Spain when it comes to titles won. They’ve picked up 24 Copa Del Reys, second only to Barcelona on that front. Interestingly the Royal Spanish Football Federation only recognises 23 Copa Del Rey wins. As well as having a men’s team that can boast being one of the best in the history of Spain, Bilbao also have a brilliant women’s that is, in fact, the most successful in the country. They’ve achieved that claim by picking up five Primera División Femenina championship wins.

San Mamés History

Construction of San Mames stadium - By Zarateman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Plans for a new stadium that Athletic Bilbao could call home were drawn up as early as 2004. Approval to build it came through in 2006, but building work didn’t begin until 2010. The club actually held a ground-breaking ceremony that was attended by people such as Patxi López, the Lehendakari of the Basque Country; José Luis Bilbao who was the Deputy-General of Biscay; Iñaki Azkuna, the Mayor of the city of Bilbao and Ángel María Villar, the Real Federación Española de Fútbol’s President.

The football ground that the stadium was built to replace had been open for 100 years when the replacement San Mamés opened its doors for the first time to host a match between Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo. Michel Platini, the former President of UEFA, described the San Mamés as ‘a wonderful stadium’, with the decision to design a football ground that would fit into the stylistic choices of the city of Bilbao seen as a real positive. The design also took into account the acoustics within the stadium, configuring the stands to ensure that the noise levels are optimum.

Future Developments

By Tiia Monto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Given that the stadium hasn’t been open for all that long, it’s unlikely that there will be many changes to it in the near future. There are certain aspects of the ground, such as the retractable roof, that have not yet been finished and so these will take priority.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.