New stadium being constructed in shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar

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One of the world’s most recognized locales will soon have a soccer stadium.

You can’t ask for a more picturesque location for a new category four UEFA stadium than the planned Europa Point Stadium in Gibraltar, overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar as ships pass between the tips of Europe and Africa under the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar.

With the 2013 inclusion of Gibraltar as a full-fledged UEFA member, next came the plans for a new stadium to host international events, allowing Gibraltar to play its home matches at, well, home, once the stadium opens in 2016. The current Victoria Stadium ranks as a category two stadium, at best.

And now there are plans for Europa Point Stadium, also known as Gibraltar National Stadium, courtesy of Mark Fenwick of Fenwick Iribarren Architects, the designer behind a 2022 Qatar World Cup stadium and winner of the 2010 Best Sport Facility award for Estadi Cornellà-El Prat near Barcelona.

“Gibraltar is a very special space and special area in Europe,” Fenwick says. “The responsibility and actual idea to design such a strong building for Gibraltar really, for me, is quite important, not only professional but also personally.”

The 8,000-seat grass-pitch stadium for the national football association includes the amenities expected in modern-day stadiums. Plus, of course, a panoramic-view restaurant. The concourses and interior open up to the natural beauty beyond. The site, classified as an underdeveloped heritage location, cozies close to the actual point and Trinity Lighthouse there and the rock, giving the nation a “football cathedral,” according to the nation’s football association, right next door to two actual religious cathedrals, the Shrine of Our Lady Europa Church and Mosque of Two Holy Custodians.

As part of the development, expect restaurants, retail space and new “leisure activities” to improve the tourist draw to the Gibraltar location. Of course, for soccer fans, nothing says beauty like mixing a historic site with a shiny new stadium.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.