By Concepcion M. Moreno
Buenos Aires, Mar 17 (EFE).- With 83,200 seats thanks to an ongoing renovation, River Plate’s Mas Monumental stadium is now the largest in South America and a fitting venue for the Argentine national team’s first match since winning the World Cup last December in Qatar.
“We find ourselves at a historic moment of enormous transcendence for the history of the club and also for the country,” River Plate’s secretary general, Stefano Di Carlo, tells EFE.
Di Carlo, who was just 29 when he was named second vice president of the Buenos Aires institution in 2018, is a great student of sports organizations around the world.
“One looks, takes examples, tries to transplant and adapt to the local culture much of what happens in Europe, largely in Spain, the market with the greatest quantity of similarities in cultural terms of what has to do with River and Argentina,” he says.
Within the region, “the only possible comparable is Brazil.”
Di Carlo is looking forward to seeing the Albiceleste take the field next week for a friendly against Panama.
“We expect it to be a happy, emotional reception” for the team and its “great captain,” Lionel Messi, the club executive says of the side’s first official outing with their new shirts including the third star for the triumph in Qatar, which followed Argentina’s victories in the 1978 and 1986 tournaments.
“River contributes its stadium, which is everything. It is its identity, its history,” Di Carlo says, adding that the club is making all of its facilities available to the Argentine Football Association (AFA) for the March 23 game.
That includes a 20-room hotel inside the stadium, equipped with a pool table and training room, giving the AFA the option of having the team practice at Mas Monumental instead of at its own facility near the capital’s airport.
The stadium renovation, which is set to be complete by the middle of 2024, represents an investment of $70 million, but River Plate expects to recoup much of that money from the sale of the 200 boxes at $200,000 each – 40 have already sold – and with revenue from restaurants and the parking concession.
The club has pocketed $20 million from the Mas corporation for naming rights and $10 million from DF Entertainment, Argentina’s leading promoter, for use of the stadium because, in Di Carlo’s words, “global artists demand River.”
British band Coldplay recently played 10 shows at Mas Monumental.