Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said the long-delayed €400 million upgrade to the club’s Bernabeu stadium is now set to begin in early 2019.
Perez first announced a substantial rebuild of the ground in 2004, but planning and finance problems have caused delays and amendments to the project.
The upgrade will add a futuristic silver “skin,” retractable roof, luxury hotel and retail area to the Bernabeu, which currently holds 81,044 people.
In April, Madrid City Council agreed to the new “parcelisation,” or division, of the site, including demolition of the shopping centre that occupies one corner, although further permits are still required for that to go ahead.
Perez, also the chairman of construction company ACS, spoke to reporters after its AGM on Tuesday and said moving the project forward was “taking a long time” but an end was in sight.
“The work is difficult, but we are coming to an agreement with the end of initiating [work] at the start of next year,” he said.
“We have done the urbanisation and parcelisation phases. Now we are into the execution phase, which is taking a long time.”
How Madrid will finance the project is unclear. In October 2014, Perez revealed a partnership with Abu Dhabi-based IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Company) which included the possibility of the 70-year-old stadium getting a “surname.”
Two years later, he said the work would be completed by 2019.
However, the deal with IPIC, now called Mubadala, appears to have broken down, with local reports saying the two parties are involved in a legal battle.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan