Villarreal has announced plans to redevelop the current Estadio de la Ceramica into a totally covered, 25,000 seater stadium, with the work scheduled to begin as soon as this season’s fixtures conclude. The club has asked La Liga to jig the schedule a bit in the early going so we have more away matches, and our home matches during the rebuild will happen at Levante’s ground in Valencia. (I expect the club will work out something for transport for season-ticket holders).
The money is coming from moneys an investment fund provided to each team for infrastructure, and the cost is estimated to be €20 million. The work is expected to be completed by the time the World Cup is over.
I have yet to see an architectural rendering of the entire plan for the rebuild, but here is what we do know:
....the goal is to end up with a fully-enclosed stadium with all seats under cover, sufficient to be a ‘five-star’ ground that could hold the UEFA Supercup, for example.
....seating capacity won’t change much, if at all—the plan will be to give everyone a bit more elbow room, and presumably redevelop the away end, the large “las Jaulas” stand which looms above the rest of the ground and now has a Plexiglas screen that fogs up. At the very least, there will be some sort of arch employed here to give the ground a focal point. (Any redevelopment of this area would include provision for improved methods to deal with crowd segregation in the case of large away followings.)
....for those of you who watch the Villarreal matches on TV, you’ll know that what looks like the far corner on the right end of the ground has no seating, but instead there is a ceramic tile-covered wall that juts out and is covered with the club crest and the tan-colored tiles the outside of the ground used to have. As far as I can tell from looking at older pictures of the ground (there’s an excellent article about the ground here with lots of old photos) first there were trees in this corner, later houses impinged on the ground, now those houses will be gone and this end finally enclosed.
When Alisa and I visited in 2015, the ground felt much more hemmed-in, rather like a large boat that had washed ashore and come to rest against the adjoining housing developments and other buildings. Since then, the entrances to the ground, especially the plaza in front, were opened up as part of the “Estadio de la Ceramica” build, and this latest redevelopment will give even a bit more space around all the stands.
Any of you who have attended matches at Villarreal, you’ll know that the feeling of walking to and from the ground with—it seems—everyone in the town—is part of the special feeling of the place, and that will definitely remain. I have to confess I am a bit of a stadium geek, having visited lots of English grounds in the pre-Hillsborough era, and so many of those center-of-the-town grounds are gone now.
I am delighted that Villarreal is not and will not go the way of so many clubs and stick a new, soulless stadium off a ring road somewhere. Instead, the Estadio de la Ceramica will continue to be the focal point for people coming from every direction—walking up from the train station, driving from the main roads.
Now, if Sr. Roig could just take over the regional railway system (those of you who have struggled with late trains back to Valencia on a matchday evening, or had to deal with the insane number of stairs up and down to cross the tracks when you arrive from Valencia, know what I mean) we’d be fine!