After modernizing its stadium by eliminating an athletics track and raising its capacity to 40,000 spectators, the Real Sociedad finally has a headquarters to be proud of and with which it believes it can once again become one of the best clubs in Spain.
The Basque team has been forced to play away from home in their first three games of the season, while the final touches were being made to the stadium, but on Saturday they will finally return to play on their turf when they face league leaders Atletico Madrid.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, I’d even go back to the ’70s. There have been a lot of people (who) did a lot because we had a camp without clues,” President Jokin Aperribay told reporters Thursday.
“I think it’s a nice, cozy, pleasant countryside. And the best thing is in the story that we all have to write in this field, which has to be very beautiful”.
The new stadium will be known as Reale Arena after the club won a six-year contract for 10 million euros (11 million dollars) with the insurance company Reale Seguros.
Although the actual costs of the refurbishment have not been revealed, local media indicate that the club had earmarked 33 million euros for the project, while the local government and the municipality contributed a further 14 million euros.
The Real Sociedad was one of Spain’s elite clubs, winning two consecutive league titles in the early 1980s in its old stadium, Atotxa, which held 27,000 spectators.
The club moved to Anoeta in 1993, but the increase in capacity to 32,000 seats had a cost, as the athletics track that embraced the playing field deprived fans of the intimacy of its former headquarters.
“I played with Osasuna and Malaga in Anoeta and the pressure on the rival is not the same when there are tracks,” said to Diario Vasco defender Nacho Monreal, who just joined the Real Society from Arsenal.
“People have to be close to the player, to the match. Football is passion. And the player feels that”.
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