The history and how the Mar del Plata World Cup stadium is today

The World Cup Stadium, World Cup Stadium, “Ciudad de Mar del Plata” or “José María Minella” Stadium, is already 46 years old. Its ephemeral days of glory and the abandonment in which it finds itself.


The grounds of the Municipal Sports Field would receive a model stadium for those times of military government. Before the World Cup, the premiere was made with a classic duel of those times: Mar del Plata vs. Tandil were in charge of opening it to full capacity. Forty-two thousand people watched as Aldo Varales, at 13 minutes into the first half, scored the first goal in the history of the stadium for the Serrano national team. The game ended 2-2 on May 21, 1978. The World Cup was coming.

The bad weather of a harsh winter in Mar del Plata began to undress inconveniences on the field that were already glimpsed in the opening match between Italy and France, but especially in the full court duel between Brazil and Spain with zero equality in an impossible field. The turf loaves were coming out and the game was tarnished until leaving the field unusable. There, Cardeñosa, then a Betis midfielder, spoiled a goal sung for Spain on a surface that played a trick on him with the goal at his disposal.

Michel Platini and the French team played against Hungary in the last World Cup match that the stadium hosted in 1978. Part of the group stage. And they had to do it with the Kimberley shirt because of the similarity between the outfits. This is how the Mar del Plata headquarters ended. From there, the fable begins and the sports and musical stories that are heard today in the deteriorated corridors of the stadium.

Popular folklore says, for example, that all the materials, including its grass, were mistakenly changed between Mar del Plata and Mendoza. In other words, the grass from the Malvinas Argentinas and the irons from the Minella were exchanged. Can be. The fable concludes that if the Mendoza stadium is still fine, it is because the materials for dry weather did not work in Mardel and that those who did manage the humidity knew how to live with the droughts and the Zonda wind.

But beyond the popular full-court summer tournaments, the presence of Queen, Luis Miguel or Rod Stewart, Diego’s last cup for the “Artemio Franchi” against Denmark, the 1995 Pan American Games and the gold of the cast of Passarella, the Pre-Olympic, the 2001 Youth World Cup and so many things that were done there, everything was forgotten around 2003, when the Single Stadium of La Plata was born. The priorities of the Province of Buenos Aires passed to the capital of the district and in 2009 this scenario was designated as the venue for the Copa América organized by Argentina in 2011. Chau, Mar del Plata. Rust and oblivion, which were already at work in the old stadium, in its entrails, definitively took over every inch. And the Minella fell into a black hole of bureaucracy, inaction and apathy.

The tragic floods

That cement oval, on two occasions, it was subject to beastly floods that left the stage covered with water up to the crossbar and damaging the visors. The heart of the stadium, its connections, its pipes, its gyms, its offices, its locker rooms, were completely under water, from floor to ceiling. On both occasions, the “World Cup” stadium served as a containment dam for a neighborhood that watched impassively as this sporting and cultural monument retained tons of water.

On the night of February 20, 1992, when Racing and San Lorenzo (winners of the two summer tournaments) were going to play, referee Francisco Lamolina toured a stadium already covered in water and where the ball did not bounce. He decided to call off the match. The football summer in the city was over. A Dantesque story began to unfold. The city and the stadium were flooded. The brown, foul-smelling fluid displayed an insane postcard. Bilge pumps, municipal personnel, an artisan work to remove water and mud, clean parquet by parquet of the gyms, cable by cable of the boards and recover the old physiognomy. First big deadly damage of a stadium resembling Terminator. The same thing happened on October 21, 2002. Second wound in the bowels of a structure that resists everything.

The stall closed

The damage continued over the years, slow but unstoppable. The corroded irons and the pitiful appearance of the stage in general caused the covered stalls to be closed in September 2021. What a problem for Aldosivi and Alvarado, who use the field for their official participation in the AFA tournaments. In September it will be one year since the stadium is partially operational due to the unfortunate and worrying state of the roof of said structure.

In February of this year, the Municipality of General Pueyrredón through its mayor Guillermo Montenegro, began to evaluate future possibilities for the main stage of the entire region “Mar y Sierras”. He requested a report from the National University of Mar del Plata for a technical evaluation of the state of the covered grandstand. But that task, which would be carried out by the best engineers in the city, had a value of 13 million pesos: impossible for the weakened coffers of a city with basic problems. No technical report, no new roof, no complete dismantling of the structure. Any. To make matters worse, friends of others stole copper cables and stabilizers that were difficult to replace over the years and the old technology they possessed. That was in March. All wrong and even without light. Bingo.


The issue was raised these days when the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires offered Mayor Montenegro to take charge of the technical study and a commitment for its general arrangement. But the boss of the region played a vital homeland on the other hand and deepened some talks that he had already had with the President of the AFA, Claudio Tapia. There, the head of national soccer and the highest authority of the city revived concepts about the stadium and the chance arose that the AFA would fix it and use it for the national teams.


Jerks and the stadium in the middle of corrosion

The passage of time has been inflexible with this scenario. The closure of the roofed grandstand will be one year old and the city teams have lost juicy collections for not being able to sell tickets in that damaged structure. Something secondary, but also important, is the deterioration of the lighting towers, the cracks and leaks in the parking lots and a slab in that same sector that prevents the teams from entering the interior of the Minella. Only the ’95 Pan American Games and, to a lesser extent, the 2001 Junior World Cup covered up a cancer that grew until it metastasized.

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The history and how the Mar del Plata World Cup stadium is today – TyC Sports