The story of Atletico Madrid's new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 12/09/17 7:40pm
Atletico Madrid will play their first game at their new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football.
After bidding farewell to the Vicente Calderon at the end of the 2016/17 season, Atletico have started the 2017/18 campaign with three away matches as the final touches have been made to the 68,000-seater stadium.
Ahead of the curtain-raiser against Malaga on Saturday, here's everything you need to know about Atletico's new stadium...
A long time coming
Atletico first talked about moving to the former athletics stadium nearly 30 years ago, but saw their efforts hampered by various setbacks, such as financial and legal problems. Plans were also hit by the economic crisis in Spain, which significantly reduced the value of the planned buildings on the site of the Vicente Calderon.
The stadium itself was built in 1994 with a 20,000 capacity but has largely been vacant after several failed bids for the Olympics. Atletico eventually managed to secure funding for the stadium thanks to help from Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, who bought a 20 per cent share in the club in 2015.
#AtléticosPorElMundo, empezamos el día con una foto histórica ✅¡Ya está colocado el césped del @wandametropolitano!👏😉 - #AtléticosAroundTheWorld, we start the day with a historic photo gallery ✅ The grass of the @wandametropolitano Metropolitano has been laid!👏😉 - #AtléticosDuMonde, commençons la journée avec une galerie historique ✅Pelouse posée au @wandametropolitano Metropolitano!👏😉 #AúpaAtleti #GoAtleti #WandaMetropolitano #Atleti #Atlético #AtléticodeMadrid
The name for the new stadium comes from the investors - 'Wanda' - and also Atletico's first permanent stadium, the Stadium Metropolitano de Madrid, which they played in from 1923-66.
"My grandfather has told me about the Metropolitano, I know what it means for the Atleticos," says Atletico legend Fernando Torres.
"In these modern times, it is lucky to have a partner like Wanda. For those who have Atleti blood the surname makes us emotional too, it is beautiful. All my memories are at the Calderon, but maybe someday I can tell my grandfather I played at the Metropolitano."
Work on the stadium has not gone completely smoothly. There have been concerns that the construction will not be completed in time and also that the transport links will not be ready.
While the Vicente Calderon was a short walk from Plaza Mayor, one of the capital's main squares, the Wanda is around a 30-minute drive, near to the airport. In late August there were reports that official permission had not yet been given for access links connecting the stadium to the motorway.
There were fears that Atletico would need to sell several of their star players to raise money for the stadium, and also questions asked after a video showed rainwater leaking through the roof.
Club president Enrique Cerezo labelled the footage "stupid" while the club tweeted to say: "It rains in Madrid and drops water on the stairs. It's normal. We are still heat-sealing the roof. Stay calm, it will be perfect on 16/9!"
There have been also been protests from Atletico fan group Senales de Humo, saying they wanted to "test the legality" of everything that has been done, while suggesting a redevelopment of the Calderon would be better for the club.
At the start of the year, club chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin said the new stadium is "an exciting challenge", but acknowledged it is also "a big risk as it will cause a big short-term debt for the club".
However, despite the concerns, the stadium has finally been completed.
What's been said?
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo: "It will be one of the best, if not the best, stadiums in Europe."
Atletico head coach Diego Simeone: "The club has been growing a lot since we started in 2011 and I have always seen the possibility of enormous improvement. The fans will never lose their love for the Metropolitano, then the Calderon, and they will fall in love with the Metropolitano Wanda, because what really entices the fans is the shirt. And as long as I do not change the shirt, everything else can be improved.The stadium is going to be a pressure cooker."
Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin: "Our new home will be a model stadium in the world. Having the experience of managing the Calderon for the last 25 years and meeting our fans, I am convinced that the Metropolitano Wanda will be the best stadium for Atletico Madrid."
With an increase of around 12,000 seats from the Vicente Calderon, Atletico have sold more season tickets than ever before, and there will be plenty of facilities for the fans to enjoy. The new stadium meets all of UEFA's five-star criteria and is in the running to host the Champions League final in 2019.
All seats - including the 7,500 corporate seats - will be covered by a roof while there will be 79 "Neptuno" VIP suites of various sizes and a "Walk of Legends", with plaques for every player that has played over 100 games for the club.
That has sparked some debate among fans, with some less-well-thought-of players included on the walk and other "legends" who did not reach the 100-game mark not getting a plaque.
"I think all Atletico players deserve a plaque, but we would not have space, we would need five walks," said club president Cerezo.
Like Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, the roof of the stadium has lighting that will change colour, while the home changing rooms feature a club badge on the ceiling amid plush-looking upholstery.
🏧🔴⚪ Seguimos descubriendo nuevas zonas del @WandaMetropolitano. ¡Hoy os mostramos el vestuario del primer equipo! - 🏧🔴⚪ We continue discovering new areas of the @WandaMetropolitano. Today, we show you the dressing room of the first team! - 🏧🔴⚪ On continue la découverte de nouvelles zones du @WandaMetropolitano. Voici le vestiaire de l'équipe première! #AúpaAtleti #GoAtleti #WandaMetropolitano #Atleti #Atlético #AtléticodeMadrid
After Malaga visit the Wanda on Saturday, Atletico will host Sevilla on September 23 before facing Chelsea in the Champions League on September 27.
The first Madrid derby at the stadium takes place on Sunday, November 19.
Don't miss Atletico's home opener against Malaga on Sky Sports Football on Saturday.
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