Friday 29 September 2023, 14:30

Nicaragua’s Managua National Stadium modernized with FIFA Forward support

  • The Managua National Stadium has undergone essential renovation to its facilities

  • Work was conducted aimed at improving spectator accessibility and safety

  • FIFA Forward has contributed USD 1,800,000 in funding

April 14, 2011 is a historic date for Nicaraguan football. On that day, the sporting landscape of the Central American country underwent a radical change. In Managua, the country's capital, the doors of the National Stadium opened for the first time, the first soccer stadium in the country to be FIFA approved.

With a capacity for 20,000 spectators, the stadium has become the home of the pinolero national team. However, over the last decade, some spectator needs not covered by the original design have become evident.

Aiming to meet international standards, the Nicaraguan Football Federation (FENIFUT), with technical advice and financing from FIFA's Forward program launched a comprehensive renovation project divided into three different phases.

One of the most urgent needs identified was to better accommodate disabled spectators. With comfort and safety as key considerations, a platform strategically located at the top of the main stand was built for disabled fans and their companions. In addition, 12 fully equipped restrooms were also constructed to meet their needs. “I want to congratulate FIFA and President Gianni Infantino. FIFA Forward has especially benefited member associations with less economic resources, enabling us for example to carry out infrastructure improvements. With this project, both footballers and fans are equal beneficiaries,” said Manuel Quintanilla, FENIFUT President.

Improvements for disabled spectators did not stop there. Access ramps in the North and South stands lead directly to the parking lots, covered with non-slip floors, whilst signage was introduced to support the orientation of fans with restricted vision.

View from the outside of the National Stadium of Nicaragua in Managua, Nicaragua

Another challenge was ensuring the safety of attendees in the event of emergencies. Therefore, three evacuation exits were installed, all equipped with handrails and foldable gates without locks to facilitate a quick and effective exit.

Similarly, the stand now features a lighting system with 7 fiberglass poles and powerful 84,000-lumen LED lights, all installed to improve visibility in the stands for spectators, without obstructing the view of the field.

Speaking about the project, Jair Bertoni, Director of the FIFA's Member Federations Division for the Americas said: "On my first visit to the National in 2017, it was clear that the stadium did not have the appropriate facilities worthy of such an important venue which hosted local football matches, national team games, and various international tournaments. Despite the scepticism of many, we started working with FENIFUT so that Nicaragua could have a model stadium in the region that met all the requirements for its national teams."

The parking area also received special attention, especially to cope with inclement weather and heavy traffic. A paving system not only proves useful during the rainy season by preventing puddles and mud building up, but also, during dry seasons, minimises dust, thus protecting fans' respiratory pathways.

In the main building, a new reception can be found, as well as a 58-square-metre room for press conferences. Next to it, there is also a mixed zone for player interviews.

Other improvements included the construction of two referee locker rooms, a complete remodelling of the two player locker rooms with a new shower area and a new medical room, plus offices for the team delegates and coaching staff.

A internal view of the National Stadium of Nicaragua in Managua, Nicaragua

"We have successfully completed the second stage of the National Stadium's renovation,” said José María Bermúdez, General Secretary of FENIFUT. “FIFA's support through the Forward funding was fundamental. We have created a worthy venue that meets all requirements to host international matches, and we have already hosted some international competitions."

The renovations will not only benefit men's football but will also have a significant impact on women's football and youth teams. By providing top-notch facilities and creating a safe and accessible environment for fans, the stage is set for future generations of Nicaraguan footballers to pursue their dreams and elevate pinolero football to the next level.

"Although the pandemic brought significant complications to the region and the country, Nicaragua's case is remarkable. FENIFUT took advantage of the situation to review the functionality of its stadium, prepare a detailed analysis of its needs, and design an action plan to improve it. Today we reap those benefits. Development implies planning, discipline, and patience, and FENIFUT had them all," concluded José Rodríguez, Head of FIFA's Regional Office in Panama.