With 324 suites, 4,500 club seats and a stunning design, Estadio BBVA Bancomer is already one of the most notable soccer stadiums in the world. But architect David Lizarraga has an even bigger goal in mind with his design for the new Monterrey soccer stadium: to totally change how Latin American fans view the game experience.
The privately financed $200-million project received international recognition during the design stages, and with the opening of the new home of C.F. Monterrey – the Reyados – set for Aug. 2, the new stadium will certainly set a new standard for the hospitality experience in Latin America, if not the world.
For Lizarraga, senior architect and senior associate at Populous, overseeing the design of Estadio BBVA Bancomer was like going home – literally.
“I am from Mexico – I was born there, and I lived in Monterrey,” he said. “I am a soccer fan. Most of the facilities in Mexico are old: 50-year-old stadiums that are not the most comfortable. This new stadium will completely change the game as to how Mexicans experience a match, and I say that as a Mexican.”
Instead of cramming 51,000 fans into the smallest space possible, Lizarraga and crew set a goal of making sure every fan – in the suites, in the club seats, in the stands – has the best experience possible. The suites feature high-end finishes and upscale food concessions. Two club lounges with a total of 4,500 seats feature high-end drink bars and food offerings, as well as outdoor terraces and operable glass walls. One of the clubs has a kids’ zone, with separate gourmet dining. In addition, there is a balcony so fans can watch players coming onto the field via the access tunnel. In the stands, fans will be close to the action and will be entertained with two large high-def videoscreens.
“One of the main principles of design from the client was to create fan seating that is welcoming to everyone,” Lizarraga said. “That might sound like it is in the United States, but in Mexico it can be a littler rough. We wanted to change that. We wanted every person to feel safe and comfortable. This is a stadium for families.”
That the stadium would be a success was a given: suites were sold out two years ago, and premium seating was sold out six months ago. The 324 suites are the most found in any soccer stadium in the world, and you could argue that even more suites could have been sold.
“I have never seen something like this in my 20 years at Populous,” said Lizarraga, whose projects with the Kansas City (Mo.) global sports-architecture firm Populous include Yankee Stadium, Target Field and Marlins Park. “Reyados fans are very loyal fans. The team had achieved successes in the league and in the club tournaments. The club wanted to give their fans a stadium on the same level as to how the team is performing, and reward their loyalty.”
As noted, the $200-million stadium was totally funded and financed by team owner FEMSA, a public traded beverage and retail firm.
Besides the fan amenities, Estadio BBVA Bancomer has a cutting-edge design that pays tribute to the area’s major industries. The self-supported, tripod-like structure soars above the landscape, complementing the distinctive, beloved saddle-shaped Cerro de la Silla Mountain. That setting is important: the total stadium site is over 60 acres, and a third of that is green, complete with a permeable surface on parking areas designed to return rainfall back to the grounds. The asymmetric steel façade, topped with crescent-shaped aluminum gills set up to allow breezes into the stadium, makes a visual statement that can be seen from a long distance. It pays homage both to the city’s rich history of steel manufacturing and brewing: Tecate was founded in Monterrey in 1891 and is still brewed there, and FEMSA’s roots are in brewing as well. (Indeed, the firm has a stake in global brand Heineken.) The gills at the top of the exterior will be lit at night, extending the design experience.
“I believe that there is not a stadium like Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Latin America, and I am confident the stadium will become the new example to follow,” Lizarraga said. “The stadium hasn’t opened and it’s turning heads all over the world.
“Now that we’ve finished our work, it’s up to the fans of Monterrey to tell us how their expectations are met or exceeded.”