STADIUM: RIAZOR 

Estadio Municipal de Riazor
c/ Manuel Murguía (no number) 15011 A Coruña
Telephone: 981 271 214
STADIUM'S VICINITY (MAP)

Capacity: 34,611 seats
Inaugurated: 28 October, 1944
Pitch size: 105 x 68 metres
Services: changing room, sauna, clinic, recuperation room, antidoping control room.
Radio cabins: 16
Journalists desks: 48, with TV-camera spots.
Press room: 70 profesionals, 7 protagonists, simultaneous traduction, telephone lines, access to the internet and TV-camera spots.
VIP terraces: 28 for 10 guests each. With their own shop, bar and restaurant service and TVs.
 THE RIAZOR - THEN AND NOW 

When Deportivo La Coruña were founded in 1906 they started playing on a field called Corralón de la Gaiteira and in the local bull ring. In May 1909 the team moved to the place where the current stadium stands today. It used to be part of the gardens of the Catholic Church School called Las Esclavas (the slaves).

Now this school stands in front of the actual stadium, on the rocks of the beach. The local Government created the new pitch and it was nicknamed the Riazor, after the nearby Riazor Beach. The name stuck but since then the stadium has been remodeled four times:

1909: Viejo Riazor (Old Riazor)
Nowadays the stadium built at the Las Esclavas location is called Viejo Riazor. It was inaugurated on 16 May, 1909 with a match between Deportivo and Fortuna de Vigo. Five years later new goals were added together with small terraces. The stadium was also fenced up so people would have to pay to see the match.

In this first Riazor, Deportivo played against the charismatic Uruguayan national team, knocked Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey and obtained their first promotion to the Primera División. Some important players of Deportivo's history played in this era like Chacho, Ramón González, Acuña and Luis Otero. Deportivo played in this Old Riazor until 1944.

1944: Riazor
In 1944 the largest football stadium in the history of the Galician region was built. This Riazor had a capacity of 40,000 to 45,000 spectators.

The first match in the new stadium was played on 29 October, 1944 and priest Ricardo Domínguez Dopazo blessed the place in the morning. The Mayor back then was Vázquez-Peña and the president of Deportivo at that time was Ruenes. Some supporters thought the new stadium contained a mistake as the terraces were very far away from the pitch and there was a rumour that the pitch was posessed by the devil. That year Deportivo went down to the Segunda División...

The stadium had cost 5 million pesetas to construct. The promoter of it was former Mayor José Pérez Ardá, materializing the ideas of Ramon del Llano. The design and the stadium and the project's sheets were made by municipal architect Santiago Rey Pedreira and Angel Llopiz. The stadium covered an area of 39.325 m2 and the pitch 7.770 m2 (105x74 meters) was one of the biggest in Spain.

Behind the stadium, over the standing Fondo terrace, a great tower of 45 meters was built. Next to it some training pitches, popularly called picadero were constructed. At the front of it was surrounded by arches and columns. There was also a training pitch (80x65 meters), demolished in 1968 to make way for the Municipal Pavilion of Sports.

The official capacity of the stadium back then was 37,000. But tickets of some matches show that some matches were played in front of some 60,000 supporters! The biggest terrace was the one in front of the covered stands. This one wasn't covered and was called Preferencia.

The inauguration match in 1944 was played against Valencia and was dedicated to Virgilio López Rincón, the only survivor of the first team of the 1906 Deportivo. The first eleven Deportivo players that played that day were: Acuña, Portugués, Guimeráns, Bienzobas, Lezama, Caballero, Molaza, Marquinez, Pedrito and Paquirri. Deportivo lost 2-3 and the first goal of the history in the stadium was scored by Valencia player Hernández in front of 18,000 spectators.

After 1944 some important players of Deportivo's performed in this stadium like Luis Suárez, Amancio and Veloso. The only final of the Copa del Rey played in the city was in this stadium in 1947 as Real Madrid beat Espanyol 2-0 in front of 30,000 spectators. In the same year the first edition of the Trofeo Teresa Herrera was celebrated, won by Athlétic de Bilbao as they beat Brazilian Vasco de Gama 3-2.

1982: remodelling for World Cup tournament
At the start of the 1980s the stadium was remodelled again due to the World Cup taking place in Spain in 1982. The organization wanted to change it radically: a reduction of capacity but an increase of comfort. Instead of cemented seats, they wanted to install plastic seats with a back. The remodelled Riazor was inaugurated with the World Cup being played in June 1982. It was officially inaugurated on 15 June, 1982 with the match Peru - Cameroon that ended 0-0.

So, this remodelling became a total renovation. They had to demolish the great terrace of the Preferencia Superior because it was built with poor material. They only conserved parts from the Old Riazor were the big Marathon tower and some walls. The stadium won in comfort but actually got worse: the losing of 10,000 seats spectators didn't make sense.

This time the remodelling was promoted by Angel Ron, La Coruña's delegate of the World Cup. The total inversion was 501.469.000 pesetas, of which 402.239.000 (80%) came from the City Hall and only 99.230.000 (20%) from the World Cup organization. Those years the relationship between the City Government and the club were very good.

In 1983, Mayor Francisco Vázquez and Deportivo president Corzo Sierra signed a pact that allowed Deportivo to use the stadium whenever they wanted. This pact will stand for 50 years, until 2033, with the only annual cost for Deportivo being a symbolic 1 peseta. This contract is very important for Deportivo because it guarantees the club a place to call 'home' in the city for the next 50 years. It also links the club with the local Government, to preserve good relations.

The great remodelling and the contract were the first lines of a new chapter in the stadium's history. Riazor had to be prepared for the year 2000, especially the changing and press room. After this it needed some important changes in the terraces concerning the telecommunications aspect. They also had to demolish some athletic runways - the best in Spain at that time - leaving behind only six of them. The first Deportivo player scoring in the new stadium was Jose Luis against Alavés.

1990s: final improvements
As indicated, the stadium had lost some of its initial capacity during the remodelling process. But the excellent results of the team in the 1990s in both domestic and European competitions made it being too small and in need for new changes.

In 1995 the idea to close the stadium and to construct a new terrace behind the Sports Pavilion was considered and it would have an "U" shape. The new project included a big red top to cover the whole stadium and the local government would pay for it.

In the end the athletic runways were completely suppressed and this led to a big polemic because those were the only runways in the city. Most part of Riazor got covered with plastic seats and the marathon terrace was also modified, bringing it closer to the pitch. The metallic fences were kept intact, although they were very uncomfortable when watching the match from the 10 first rows. The big nets behind both goals were also not very popular, but they remained unchanged.

The stadium capacity was increased to 35,600 places, all seated. The current Riazor was inaugurated in in February, 1998 with the match between Deportivo and Real Madrid (2-2). Some radical spectators were unhappy about the plastic seats, as they didn't want to sit down. Around 100 seats were stolen or thrown on the pitch during that match and 84 more against Alavés three days later. The official inauguration took place during the summer of 1998, with a match for the Teresa Herrera tournament starring Real Madrid and Lazio Roma. The first goal was scored by Morientes and the match was dedicated to Deportivo ex-players Rodrigo Vizoso, Acuña and Pedrito, members of the Deportivo squad that played the inaugural match after the 1944 remodelling.

After these stadium improvements, some more slight remodellings have been made. A new system for TV transmissions, the UCO, was installed. And in 2000, just before Deportivo's first Champions League match, some of the other sections, like the press room, were also improved. In the summer of 2001, the new VIP terraces were built and they are among the best in Europe as there is an exterior section with deluxe seats and the interior has TV's, Mini bar, etc. The VIP terraces have individual exits to the stadium and an independent luxury shop. In the summer of 2002, two big TFT displays were added to the stadium (10x10 meters), right above the goals. Replays and music videos can now be played.

The Future
There's no certainty about what will happen to the stadium. But Deportivo president Lendoiro ordered famous architect Peter Eisenman and the London studio HOK to design a project for a new remodelation. The main ideas are to make of Riazor a new commercial center, with a Deportivo museum, a stadium with a larger capacity and with a modern shape. Lendoiro wants Riazor to be the myth of modern architecture in this century.

The problem is that the relationship between the local Government and Deportivo has got worse as the years got by and there won't be any financial support. But Lendoiro wants the club to finance it and also to get the ownership of the stadium.

The design is finished now and it appears that it will be open to the sea. One big rectangle of the stadium will be made of glass so spectators and players will see the waves and the sea from the inside. The project is very similar to the one used for the New Jersey stadium, to be ready for the Olympic Games in New York, 2012. Which city will finish its project first still remains to be seen.

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