In football, as in life, everything changes and evolves. The game's tactics, shirts and club badges come and go, as do the stadiums. Concerning the latter, one of the best examples of how to transform a footballing venue with the aim of bringing the team and fans even closer together can be found in the city of San Sebastian, northern Spain.
Anoeta, home of Real Sociedad, is heading towards the final stage of its evolution and is one of the biggest sources of pride for the Txuri-urdin (blue and white) club.
Since its opening in 1993, Anoeta - which replaced the legendary Atotxa - has been renowned for being one of the most modern stadiums in La Liga Santander. Famous for its imposing exterior architecture, the home of the Donostia-based club, in the past, didn't manage to capture the magic of its predecessor, the hallowed ground where the club famously won LaLiga titles.
In the words of club president Jokin Aperribay, "The root cause of the need to redevelop Anoeta was the fact that it used to have athletics track between the pitch and the stands," he notes. "We want to do what the fans want us to do and make Anoeta one of the most renowned stadiums in La Liga, one which helps spread our message all over the world."
The stadium's redevelopment was a formidable challenge which involved fusing two different architectural styles together - maintaining much of the open structure of the previous incarnation of Anoeta, that blessed it with magnificent natural light, while also bringing the stands nearer to the pitch in order to make fans feel closer to the action, something which the players will also appreciate.
From the outside an illuminated translucent "skin" will radiate in the club's famous blue colour, which in turn will give fans a view of the cityscape from inside the stadium. Anoeta is a new concept of a sports facility that puts it up there with the best stadiums in the world, equipped with the latest technology and unprecedented connectivity for all involved.
Yet the new Anoeta not only aims to improve fans' match-day experience, but also seeks to strengthen the relationship between the club, the stadium and the city. Once fully redeveloped, the new Anoeta will be innovative, not only in its facilities but also in its use.
It will become a true emblem of the city, just as the Beach of La Concha, the Old Town and the Kursaal are. In addition to welcoming in other sports, the club aims to provide different uses for each of the areas of the building, for leisure, start-ups and more. In the words of the architect Izaskun Larzabal: "This has to be everyone's home".
Consequently, every txuri-urdin fan is rubbing their hands in anticipation of seeing the new Anoeta in its complete guise, which, unlike the old incarnation will be capable of matching the magic of the mythical Atotxa. Or who knows, maybe it will even be capable of surpassing it.