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Seville’s Estadio de la Cartuja set for rebirth with Copa del Rey deal

Image: Junta de Andalucía

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has awarded Seville a four-year contract to host the final of the Copa del Rey, with the event to be held at a revamped Estadio de la Cartuja.

The announcement, which will be officially presented tomorrow (Friday) during the semi-final draw for the 2019-20 Copa del Rey, marks the first time that the RFEF has assigned hosting rights for the final of the club knockout competition on a long-term basis. The contract will commence from this season’s final on April 18, running through to the 2022-23 game.

Seville’s candidacy, led by the Junta de Andalucía with the support of the City Council of Seville, the Provincial Council and LaLiga clubs Sevilla and Real Betis, defeated a rival bid from Madrid. José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the Mayor of Madrid, last month submitted a bid to the RFEF for the Wanda Metropolitano, home of Atlético de Madrid, to host the final.

Last year the RFEF approved changes to the Copa del Rey for the 2019-20 season onwards, switching the tournament to a single-match format with the exception of the semi-finals which will remain a two-leg tie. There has been frequent controversy about where the competition will be held because Spain does not have a national football stadium.

Javier Imbroda, Minister of Education and Sports for the Junta de Andalucía, said securing the contract will allow the region to host “one of the great sporting events held in Spain, with great impact internationally”.

Andalucía has hosted four Copa del Rey finals, all of them in Seville. Two were played at Estadio de la Cartuja, the first in its opening year, 1999, and the second in 2001. However, the 57,000-capacity stadium has had a chequered history. It was initially developed for Seville’s staging of the 1999 World Athletics Championships, but has mainly lain dormant since then after legacy plans for Sevilla and Betis to share the venue failed to materialise.

Estadio de la Cartuja was included as the centrepiece of Seville’s failed bids for the 2004 and 2008 summer Olympic Games, while it also hosted football’s Uefa Cup final in 2003. The stadium was the setting for Spain’s 2004 and 2011 Davis Cup tennis finals, while it has also been used as a concert venue.

The stadium has been closed since 2018 after local authorities determined that its roof required costly renovation work. Imbroda said the stadium now has the necessary safety certificates to reopen with work carried out over the past two months, at a cost of over €1m ($1.1m), to repair the roof. The contract with the RFEF includes a clause allowing a percentage of the gate receipts for the Copa del Rey final to be directed towards future stadium renovation work.

Imbroda added: “We have to congratulate ourselves on this winning deal, which allows us to relaunch a top-level facility such as the Estadio de la Cartuja, a five-star stadium… with a heritage for all Andalusians that this government will again value, after 19 months closed. The (Copa del Rey) will generate value and resources, because the expected economic impact of each of these finals is about €43m.”