Estadio Centenario Stadium in Montevideo was born when FIFA assigned the first World Cup football championship to Uruguay. An adequate venue was missing to host this important event. The Uruguayan delegation was engaged in the building of a gigantic stadium that could hold 100,000 spectators. The entire tournament had to be played in this stadium! Works had to start right away. Within a year the tournament would start!
The stadium was designed by architects Juan Antonio Scasso and José Domato. The initial project consisted of four sectors built in an elliptical shape. If followed a strict geometrical order and was designed to include an athletics track. The different sectors were characterized by a geometrical continuity and by an equal distance to the centre of the playing field. However, it turned out impossible to complete the stadium with three levels of tiers. Therefore, the initial project was modified and the third ring was remodelled. It got built on one sector of the stadium only. Base areas with standing room were added below the tribunes and therefore the athletics track could not be built anymore. The capacity of remodelled stadium dropped to 70 000.
The first World Cup tournament was set to start on July 13th, 1930. Construction of the stadium was finished only 5 days later. Therefore, the first opening match in World Cup's history was relocated to Pocitos Stadium, a small stadium that belonged to a local football club named Peñarol. The new stadium was named 'Centenario' to celebrate the first century of Uruguay's independency. At that time, the stadium was very modern and functional. It had two levels of tiers, three sections with base areas, and a main tribune with three levels of tiers. On the latter, a tower of 100 meters (328 feet) was built, symbol of the monumental project. On top of the tower, the winning country's flag of the World Cup tournament flew.
In successive years, the stadium was enlarged several times. A third ring of tiers was built on two other sections of the stadiums (the ones behind the goals). During the seventies, the stadium could hold a capacity of 90 000 spectators. During these years, a school and museum on football were opened under the tribunes of the stadium.
Today the stadium contains several stands and it has a capacity of almost 74 000, mostly seating. It is also used for other events. In recent history, for example, it often served as the arrival of the 'Vuelta Ciclista', a cycling competition in Uruguay. Of course, the Centenario Stadium will always be famous for its history as the first stadium to have hosted a World Cup final.
© by Angelo Spampinato