La Liga side Athletic Bilbao on Monday played its first game at the team's new San Mames stadium, which "has been constructed next to the now dismantled 'Old San Mames,'" according to INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL. The stadium is a "treat for the 53,332 fans who justly deserve a 'Cathedral' of this stature." The project was approved in March '06, with construction beginning in '10. Despite the "economic crisis in Spain, the Basque people have contributed 52.6%" of the money for the €211M ($281.7M) stadium, "while the remainder will be paid by public institutions" (INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL, 9/16).
A NEW ERA: In Barcelona, Ramón Suso reported "many months were spent imagining what the first game at the new stadium would be like." After "giving the old San Mames the farewell it deserved, the entire Bilbao family had been anxiously waiting for the debut of the new San Mames." There is "no doubt that Monday will be flagged in Athletic Bilbao history and remembered forever, as nearly all the world is conscious that this day began a new era for the club." The "five-star condition of the field will put the eyes of European football on the new grounds, which will be able to host events at the highest level, like the finals of a continental competition -- Champions or Europa League -- or, as it was recently indicated, as one of the hosts of Euro 2020." Aside from "these considerations for the near future, Monday was a special day for the team's fans." One only needed to "focus on the team's first practice at the stadium on Friday to appreciate the excitement that this moment created" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 9/16). Bilbao defeated Celta Vigo, 3-2 (SBD GLOBAL).