Estadio Centenario is a stadium located in Montevideo, Uruguay. It’s mainly used for football and is owned by the Montevideo Department. The stadium was built between 1929 and 1930 for two important reasons: to host the very first FIFA World Cup in 1930 and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Uruguay’s first constitution. FIFA, which is in charge of international football, considers Estadio Centenario as one of the classic stadiums in the football world. In fact, in July 1983, FIFA declared it the first Historical Monument of World Football, a special recognition that no other building in the world has received to this day.
Estadio Centenario is not just any stadium; it’s the national stadium of Uruguay. It’s where their national football team plays most of its important matches. When Uruguay plays at home, they are a strong team and have often beaten some of the best teams in the world. Even Brazil, which has one of the top-ranked national teams, has only managed to win three times out of 20 matches played at Estadio Centenario. Two of those wins were in official matches for the World Cup in 2010 and 2018. But, in 2009, Brazil handed Uruguay their biggest defeat at the stadium with a 4–0 victory.
The building of Estadio Centenario is a crucial part of the history of sports in South America and international football. It was specifically constructed for the 1930 FIFA World Cup, and it was built in a remarkably short time of only nine months by immigrant workers. The stadium gets its name from the celebration of Uruguay’s first Constitution being in effect for 100 years.
Originally, all the World Cup matches were supposed to be played at Estadio Centenario. However, heavy rains in Montevideo delayed the stadium’s construction. As a result, some matches had to be held at Pocitos Stadium of C.A. Peñarol and Parque Central of Club Nacional de Football. Estadio Centenario was officially opened on July 18, 1930, with a match between Uruguay and Peru, which Uruguay won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Hector “Manco” Castro.
The most significant moment in the stadium’s history came during the inaugural World Cup’s final match, where Uruguay faced Argentina, and Uruguay won 4-2. Since then, Estadio Centenario has hosted various football events, including Copa América tournaments in 1942, 1956, 1967, and 1995, as well as three South American Youth Championships in 1979, 2003, and 2015, a South American Under-17 Football Championship in 1999, and the 1980 Mundialito.
In 2021, Estadio Centenario was chosen as the venue for the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana finals. To prepare for these events, the stadium underwent renovations, costing $6 million. The renovations included improvements to the grandstands, bathrooms, VIP boxes, and press boxes, as well as the installation of a new lighting system and a new playing field.
In addition to being the home stadium for the Uruguay national team, other football clubs have the option to rent Estadio Centenario for their own home matches. Peñarol has frequently used the stadium for its matches, while Nacional also rents it for certain international games. Peñarol, in fact, played all of its home matches at the stadium from 1933 until it relocated to Estadio Campeón del Siglo in 2016.
When it comes to other Uruguayan teams, they often choose to play their matches at Estadio Centenario when facing both Peñarol and Nacional. It’s a common venue for important football clashes in Uruguay.
Estadio Centenario has four main stands, each separated by four lanes. The biggest one is called the Olympic Tribune (and the lower part is known as Olympic), named after the national team’s consecutive Olympic championships in 1924 and 1928. This stand can hold a maximum of 21,648 spectators in its three levels and the audience area.
Then there are the “popular” stands, named so because they offer cheaper tickets. These include the Colombes, which honors the Colombes neighborhood in France where the national team became Olympic champions in 1924, and the Amsterdam, named after the city where the Celeste team won their second Olympic championship in 1928. The Colombes stand can seat 13,914 spectators, while the Amsterdam can accommodate 13,923.
Parallel to the Olympic Tribune is the America Tribune. The stadium also has “VIP” boxes and press boxes with space for 1,882 spectators. Additionally, there’s a platform area with room for 2,911 spectators, and the grandstand can hold 5,957 people.