The El Sadar stadium has been the heart of CA Osasuna since 1967. Since its inauguration that year, the Pamplona venue has witnessed some unforgettable moments, from cup runs and European football to this season’s promotion to LaLiga Santander.
Now after more than 50 years of history, El Sadar is undergoing a remodelling to become one of the most modern structures in European football. But unlike most projects of this nature, the process has been decided by the club’s fans.
At CA Osasuna, the fans decide
As one of the few clubs in Europe that is owned by its supporters, all club members of legal age were given the right to choose, through an open and participatory voting process, how the stadium will be re-designed over the coming years.
""We realised that the supporters themselves should be the ones who made such an important decision,” said club President Luis Sabalza. “We are aware that there was no precedent, but that is how we understand our club, a club that is and will continue to be for all of its members."
To ensure full transparency, each project was displayed at the University of Navarra museum on October 1, in a fan event that was also broadcast live through Navarra Television and the club’s YouTube channel.
Here, the club proposed two types of reforms to its members. The first one was to carry out the basic works - with a cost of 7.5 million euros - that met the short-term requirements. But the preferred option, which was chosen by 90.37%, involves making a more extensive development, including an increase in the capacity of the stadium, at a total cost of 16 million euros.
The Red Wall
With the key plans decided so unanimously, the fans were then consulted on the specifics of how the remodelling would look. With five options to choose from, the winner in this vote, which won the support of 45%, was to create a ‘Red Wall’.
Designed to create an even more vibrant and intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams, the wall will be a centrepiece of the new stadium.
To create it, the club will reinforce the Graderío Sur stand and introduce safe standing in this part of the ground. It will install over 1,300 'Rail' seats, similar to those recently installed at Athletic Club’s San Mamés stadium, which are approved by UEFA and are intended to improve the experience of the fan, who can stand during the game without interrupting the view of others.
With this option, every fan will have a close view of the pitch - no more than 35 meters from the playing surface. There will also be a better containment of sound in order to ramp up the pressure on the opponent.
For Sablaza, an important aspect of the plans is the expansion of El Sadar's capacity, which will increase by more than 6,000 seats to 24,481. This solves a long-running issue for the President, who remakred: "In the last three seasons we had run out of space to accommodate all the demand for season tickets that we had."
A stadium with greater comfort
The works, which are expected to conclude before the start of the 2020/21 season, will consist of dismantling the roof of the entire stadium, except for one side.
Subsequently, it will introduce new seating in the Graderío Sur. The club will also introduce external lighting that will help it to comply with LaLiga requirements for security and TV broadcasting.
To ensure fan comfort, the external structure of the stadium will protect fans inside from wind or rain, while the distance between one seat and another will be increased.
"The reforms will result in greater comfort for the spectators and in the modernisation of all areas stadium, including offices, media zones, VIP areas and shops," added Sabalza.
With these changes, the new LaLiga Santander side will have truly top-class facilities, but more than this, it will have cemented one of the most intimate fan relationships in world football.
"Osasuna is a club of its members and, therefore, the people who have the privilege of managing the club must listen to the opinion of the members,” concluded Sabalza. “This is how it has been and how it will continue to be.”