Estadio Monumental “U”, officially Estadio Monumental (Monumental Stadium), is a football stadium in Lima, Peru, home ground of the football club Universitario de Deportes and was designed by the Uruguayan architect Walter Lavalleja Sarriés. It was built throughout the 1990s and opened in 2000. It is Peru’s largest stadium and also the second largest in South America, behind the Maracanã in Brazil. It has a spectator-capacity of 80,093; 59,177 seated in the four stands and 20,916 in luxury box suites known as palcos. The stadium initially belonged to the construction company Gremco but was later sold to the football club. The stadium was built in accordance with FIFA’s manual of technical specifications for stadiums of the new millennium.
Estadio Monumental currently hosts the Peru national football team‘s home games. The Estadio Nacional is not used by the senior team due to the artificial turf that was installed in 2005. The stadium also hosts concerts. Some well-known celebrities have performed there such as Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Gloria Estefan, Alanis Morissette, Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, and Bryan Adams.
Despite its size, it has never hosted any of the major sporting events that have come to Peru. Peru hosted the 2004 Copa America and the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship. On both occasions, the Estadio Monumental did not take part. Similarly, between 2002 and 2007, the Estadio Monumental was rejected to host the Peruvian derby between Universitario and Alianza Lima known as the Superclásico because the authorities claimed there were security issues. However, in 2008, during the Clausura, the superclásico returned to this stadium.
Located on Avenida Prolongación Javier Prado Este, the stadium and sport complex cover an area of 186,542 m². The lower tier of the stadium consists of four stands—known as Norte, Sur, Oriente, and Occidente (North, South, East, and West respectively)—each having its own entrance. The east and west stands are all-seaters, while the north and south stands have standing terraces. In the center of the western stand, there is a small private area for about 600 spectators, which has a private entrance and commodities such as bathrooms and a cafeteria. The upper tier consists of the luxury suites which are 1,250 in total; the suite owners have a private parking lot. Behind the western and eastern stands, there is a handicapped zone. The maximum capacity could be expanded to 96,500 by retrofitting terraces in the northern and southern stands and using the bottom tier of suites for businesses, as it was originally meant to be.
The field is actually 18 meters below ground level and from the outside, only the luxury suites are visible. The field is 105 x 70 meters in size, with an area of grass ranging from 10 to 11 meters that separates the stands from the field for the safety of the players, should the fans decide to throw objects. In total, there is an area of 127 x 90 meters of grass. Modern floodlighting was installed, with a total of 160 Ultra Sport General Electric spotlights of 2000w. Above the northern stand, an LED display electronic scoreboard stands which measures 8 x 10 meters. Above the southern stand, a Philips screen is situated that measures 10 x 6 meters. Above the western stand, a surveillance room with eight security cameras monitor the interiors and exteriors of the stadium. The field is watered by sprinkler irrigation.
The stadium has four changing rooms which are below the western stand; two of them are the main changing rooms for the main game the stadium hosts, while the other two are for teams participating in a preliminary game. The changing rooms include showers, bathrooms, dressing rooms, and massage rooms. The main changing rooms have an office for the manager of the team. There is also an anti-doping room, the referees’ changing room, and a chapel. Below the southern stand is a changing room for people who will be performing musical concerts.
Universitario de Deportes
This project began as far back as 1989 and construction began in January 1991. It was designed to seat 80,093 by the Uruguayan architect Walter Lavalleja Sarriés, who also designed the Estadio Alejandro Villanueva and other stadiums in South America. The stadium was inaugurated on July 2, 2000 making it Universitario’s new home venue, replacing the Estadio Teodoro Lolo Fernandez. Its first game was between Universitario and Sporting Cristal in which the home team won 2-0.
Unfortunately due to the incompetence of the authorities, the stadium was not fit to host the classic derby between Universitario and Alianza Lima between 2000 and 2007. The only time this stadium hosted the derby during this period was on June 26, 2002—the first leg of the Apertura play-off—where the home team won 1-0. Alianza’s fans, in the southern stand, reacted violently to the loss by vandalizing the bathrooms and breaking handrails. Once outside the stadium, the fans broke the windows of nearby houses and destroyed cars. It was reported that two people in the stadium were stabbed. Elizabeth Querol—chief of the National Institute of Civil Defense (Instituto Nacional de Defensa Civil)—said that over 2,500 police forces were sent but these were not enough to stop the fans.
Since that incident in 2002, the Peruvian authorities agreed not to allow the derby to be played there, forcing Universitario to play its home derby games at Estadio Nacional. The derby came close to be played in the Monumental in the Apertura of 2007. The municipality of Ate said that if the fans of Universitario behaved in their game against Bolognesi, they would consider allowing the derby return to the Monumental. The idea was later dropped and on March 3, 2007, Universitario had to play in the Estadio Nacional as the home team, where they lost 1-2 to their arch-rival.
In 2007, Universitario’s directors, led by Germán Leguía, Sports Manager (Gerente Deportivo) of the club, once again pushed the municipality of Ate and the National Police of Peru (Policia Nacional de Peru, PNP) towards playing el clásico in the Monumental. The PNP would only allow the game to be played in Universitario’s home ground on November 7, 2007 if they respected the conditions set by the PNP. Universitario and Alianza Lima both agreed not to allow Alianza’s ultra group Comando Sur attend the game and the palco owners agreed not to bring alcoholic drinks to the game. Despite the efforts made by Germán Leguía, the PNP did not allow el clásico to take place at the Monumental because of security reasons. This angered the directors and they heavily criticized the PNP for not being able to carry out their job. The game in Chimbote, however, was a 1-3 loss for Universitario.
In 2008, Universitario was finally allowed to play in its stadium against Alianza after six years. The police and the municipality did not restrict Universitario from using their stadium. The stadium was just used by the national team for the World Cup Qualifiers. The game was also Alianza’s first win at this stadium against Universitario.
It is interesting to note that this stadium was rejected as a venue for the Copa América 2004 because of problems with Alfredo Gonzalez, President of Universitario de Deportes, and the clubs directors. Many saw this as a typical bullying behavior on the part of the president since this stadium would have been the perfect venue to host the 2004 Copa América intro as well as final games.