The Mestalla stadium was built in less than four month and was named after the water canal that ran at its side
20 May 2015 marked 92 years of the official opening of the Mestalla stadium. We take a look back at the key moments that have shaped the history of the oldest top-flight stadium in Spain.
The Mestalla stadium is named after the water canal that used to run at the side. It was built in only 3 and a half months and the official opening was on 20 May 1923, with a Valencia FC local derby against Levante. A goal from Arturo Montes secured a 1-0 win against the city rivals.
Mestalla was the first stadium in Spain to have a covered tribune (main stand). This was part of an expansion made in 1927 that increased overall capacity from 13.000 to 17.000 seats. But the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 brought serious consequences for Mestalla. The stadium was used as concentration camp and a junk yard, and only the main stand survived the heavy damages. After the war, the Club initiated the restoration works with the help of the Spanish Football Federation.
Post-war years and economic recovery
The 40s were a prolific decade for Valencia CF, who won four league titles. The meteoric rise of the team demanded a bigger ground, and Mestalla was expanded in an ambitious 5-year project called 'Gran Mestalla'. Local citizens showed their commitment and support to project throughout, and contributed to it in many ways, including donations.
The Gran Mestalla officially opened in 1956. With a capacity of 30.000, the new ground was a symbol of the Spanish economic recovery after the War. But only two years later came tragedy. On 14 October 1957, floods devastated Valencia and destroyed the historic Mestalla ground. After two days of heavy rainfall, the Turia river burst its banks and covered the whole city with water, causing dozens of casualties and severe damages to land and property. The water and power supply systems were heavily damaged, as well as the main stand seats, and the offices and players tunnel. In the wake of the tragedy, an urgent meeting was held to discuss ways to restore the ground. It reopened again in 1959, featuring an important addition: the installation of floodlights, which were first used at an Inter Cities Fairs Cup match against Stade de Reims.
In the 60s, Mestalla consolidated as one of the top stadiums in Spain and Valencia CF as one of the top national football teams in Europe, mostly thanks to winning the prestigous Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1962 and 1963. In 1969, the club decided to change the name of the stadium to Luis Casanova Giner, in an gesture of respect to former president Luis Casanova who devised the 'Gran Mestalla' expansion project in the 50s. However, Luis Casanova himself admitted to not being completely comfortable with such a gesture and, in 1994, he requested to change the stadium's name back to its original name.
1982 World Cup
In the 80s Mestalla underwent a new expansion phase, as the pitch was excavated in order to build a new lower tier. The VCF ground was already a well-known stadium worldwide, and played host to important international games in the 1982 World Cup, including Spain's opening match against Honduras. The Central American side achieved a shock 1-1 draw, taking an early lead and holding it until mid-way through the second half. 50,000 fans and the presence of King Juan Carlos were not enough to encourage Spain to a victory.
Further expansion works: A final phase of Mestalla’s expansion started in 1997 and ended in 2001. Starting with the south stand and finishing with the north stand, the stadium's capacity was increased to 53,900 seats.
Mestalla shines again
The Mestalla Stadium underwent further renovation works in 2013 coinciding with its 90th anniversary, in an ambitious project aimed at giving an innovative image to Mestalla while at the same time preserving its own identity. The seats of the stadium were re-painted in the iconic orange colour and an impressive 90-metre-long black bat -the emblem of Valencia CF- was depicted in the central stand, while the 'Amunt' and 'Valencia' words can be read in the east and west side stands.
The most recent renovation works were performed in 2014-2015, and include a series of new canvases in each of the stadium's facades which commemorate the nine historic trophies won by the club. They also involved re-painting the exterior in the striking black and orange combination that you see today, as well as substantial interior improvements to the hospitality areas, including the installation of a unique experiential gaming suite with club partner EA Sports.
The most spectacular canvas is an enourmous bat weighing 9,000kg and measuring 23x15 metres; 70,800 golden sequins on the bat shine in the morning light, offering the city an emblematic sight for visitors.
Mestalla shines brighter than ever; come and see for yourself one day...
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