SLB Stadium

1954/55 – 2002/03

The 1st of December 1954 is the date which ticks one of the greatest achievements of the “Benfiquista’” history.

It was the accomplishment of a long dream, after several initiatives and activities which have shaken the country and the Portuguese colonies, in a gigantic effort that deserves to stay in the contemporary history of Portugal as one of its most vibrant chapters.

As soon as, in march 1944, the Club became aware that the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (CML) - Campo Grande’s owner, where Benfica was playing at since 05/10/1941 - was studying a new location to the “benfiquista” field, the idea of building a new stadium moved on. However, years were passing by and the Club’s board, annually elected, was incapable of taking the lands from the CML. Some members, unsatisfied with the situation, are elected, on 19/01/1946, to the Administration, promoting, on 17/05/1946, a meeting at the Ministério das Obras Públicas, during which the minister Eng. Cancela de Abreu shows his will to solve the problem, by declaring “o Benfica é de Benfica e para lá tem de voltar!” (Benfica belongs to Benfica and got to go back there!”)

Joaquim Bogalho had a set of principles which wanted to put on practice. The stadium should be at the best Portuguese club level, assuring its immediate payment, in order to avoid the loans to mortgaging the future, just like happened with Amoreiras’s stadium, two decades ago. Because it was assumed that the football weakness, during the 20’s and the 30’s, was a consequence of the stadium loans payment, which led the club into sickness (“that cancer which was corroding our existence; An atrocious torment” - Bogalho’s words), leading to the football first team’s debilitation.

Therefore, they were looking for broad and accessible lands in Lisbon city, well located and with the possibility to build a “Parque de jogos” (Games park) to embrace the club’s eclecticism.

For all of those reasons, they were looking for lands with profitable conditions: a surface topography that would make the works easier and at good price, as the wish was to buy, not to rent - what, to avoid future charges, would only be possible on 20/10/1969. As far as the type of construction concerns, the ideal would be a stadium with no luxury, but functional, adapted to Benfica’s image, the same is to say, a sporting ground with an acceptable capacity for the members (40 000 seats - the club had 14 334 members on 31/12/1949) and raised from a future expansion idea and possibility. Just after enclosing the grounds at Carnide - between Estrada de Benfica, Rua dos Soeiros and Azinhaga da Fonte (next to the place where Avenida Circular de Lisboa was being projected) - the CML’s expropriations were being initiated, on 15/11/1949.

The elaboration of the “Novo Parque de Jogos” project was delivered to architect João Simões, former club’s footballer, on the low categories, between 1925 and 1932/33, who had the wisdom to conceive a bunch of sporting fields, magnificent for the main stadium and to the adjacent sporting areas, a remarkable architectonic piece which, in spite of being concluded (only) 40 years later, has followed the “general lines” defined at the late 40’s by João Simões, which praises the brilliance of the initial project. During the 50’s , the financial campaigns to guarantee the stadium construction were initiated. On 27/10/1951, comes out the idea of increasing, voluntarily, the fees from 16$00 to 20$00, initiating the campaign: “Funds for the new stadium”, which, quickly, obtains the members adhesion.

But it is with the Board’s election, chaired by Joaquim Bogalho , on 15/03/1952, that the proceedings to the stadium construction are increased.

From these, the creation of “Comissão Central do Novo Parque de Jogos do Slb” stands out, headed by Joaquim Bogalho. The commission has stimulated and developed several initiatives and coordinated the ideas of other members, generating an unstoppable movement, called “Benfiquismo” and which was responsible for the success of many initiatives, properly advertised at the club’s seminary, O Benfica. After the General Assembly, on 16/07/1952, and the permission to sign the contract of the lands occupation (destined to the future stadium), there was an euphoric period which would only be dissipated after the stadium inauguration.

The tour to Estrada da Luz, 203, the spot of the future stadium, has determined the launching of the donating campaign “The first Impulse”, starting from that moment on with 90 000$00. The yielding of the lands deed took place at the CML, on 06/11/1952. The area was of 120 000m2, with a monthly rental payment of 1 500$00, and later, in July 1954, going to 5 000$00 each month, but always with the perspective of expanding the surrounding area, to assure the lands acquisition, what was, effectively, going to happen. In January 1953, the donation was being received in “Fundo de Construção do Novo Parque de Jogos do Clube”. On 23/05/1953 the Earthwork company is adjudicated, for 840 000$00 and, by that time, they were already counting with a 1355 658$00 total in the “Fundos Pró-Estádio”.

The works official inauguration takes place on 14/06/1953. At first, the Club develops an intense campaign for funds obtainment: diary auctions at the Secretary, Pró-Estádio shows, monumental prize draws and an huge money box available at the Benfica’s pavilion, at the popular fair. Some cultural initiatives are also taken, as a poster competition and a popular poetry contest. The success of these actions allows the club to get some financial resources for the first local earthworks, where thousands of people are passing by and giving some help, paying 10$00 for using the hoe once. All of this with the support of “O Benfica” newspaper, which provides its central pages (4 and 5) each week, using the “Pró-Estádio do Benfica” headline, monitoring the news development and the fund raising, giving “voice” to and promoting new initiatives.

With the “Pró-Estádio” festivals multiplication at several places, inside and outside the country, from Minho to Timor, the works move on with no interruptions, through an exaltation atmosphere. On 30/01/1954, when the company is adjudicated for the stands foundation - for the amount of 542 330$00- , there was a 2 336 825$48 account balance in the “fundos”.

Simultaneously, starts the “Campanha do Cimento”. When, on 17/05/1954, the construction of the 1st and 2nd “ring” stands begins, adjudicated for 5 968 000$00, there was an account balance of 2 078 400$48 and 9327 bags of cement (467 tons) were coming to the club. In October 1954, the campaign “O último Impulso - Quem não deu que dê agora, quem já deu que torne a dar” was created. The slogan was an impulse for cash and cement donations which were extended beyond the stadium inauguration, which allowed Joaquim Bogalho, to pay the stadium just like he wanted to - a 12 037 683$65 total - when he left the Presidency, after the 30/03/1957 elections.

Finally, at 11am, on the 1st of December 1954, the thrilled club’s leader, and major responsible for the “dream comes true”, Joaquim Ferreira Bogalho, opens, symbolically, one of the stadium access gates, inaugurating one of the most beautiful sporting grounds of the world. The stadium would be “walking” side by side with the future associative and sporting growth of the club. Originally with “two rings”, without illumination and isolated, it would be, later, equipped with illumination towers (1958), a 3rd ring, built in two periods (1960 and 1985, allowing the capacity extension from 66 000 to 120 000 spectators, respectively) and with several sporting facilities all around. On 04/01/1987, by occasion of the Campeonato Nacional - Day 16, versus FC Porto, the Estádio da Luz would register its best attendance ever: 135 000 people.

The importance of the new home, where Benfica had, for the first time in its history, an available pitch (grass field) became clear right in the very first season (inauguration season), by winning the Campeão Nacional title, which was missing since 1950. Many clubs were feeling the “efeito luz” (light effect), losing, frequently, by a large margin of goals, in the majestic stronghold. Even the most reputed international football emblems were tasting it, collapsing before the “catedral’s” terrible effect, in the Taça dos Campeões matches: 6-2 versus Ujpest from Hungary (06/11/1960), 5-1 versus Áustria de Viena (08/11/1961), 6-0 versus the German champion, FK Nuremberga (22/02/1962), and 5-1 against the 1964’s European finalist, Real Madrid (24/02/1965). Against Portuguese clubs, there are also a wide range of examples: 9-0 versus Boavista for the Nacional championship (07/02/1960), 6-0 versus FC Porto, for the Portuguese cup (30/04/1972), 5-0 versus Sporting, for the Nacional championship (19/11/1978) and 8-0 versus Belenenses, for the Nacional too (30/03/1980). Among others titles, it was also at Luz that Benfica has commemorated 23 (2 “bi” and 4 “tri” included) of its 30 Campeão Nacional titles, the qualification for 23 Taça de Portugal finals (won for 16 times), 7 qualifications for the Taça dos Clubes Campeões Europeus final and the dispute of the Taça UEFA 2nd leg final, on 18/05/1983. The football universe will never forget the one which is kindly called (all around the world) as “Stadium of Light”, a stadium where some of the greatest football matches were played, during the second half of XX century.

After a few “homeless” decades, the biggest and most popular Portuguese club was getting, finally, a stadium appropriated to its image and dimension.

Estádio da Luz - Characteristics

Estádio da Luz
Benfica (S. Domingos) - Grounds on the right of Azinhaga da Fonte, which connect Calhariz de Benfica to Largo da Luz, in Carnide
Kind of property
Lands cost (1954 Rental)
5 000$00 a month
Lands cost (Acquisition on 21/10/1969)
Lands cost (Acquisition on 21/10/1969)
Earthworks cost
840 000$00
Cost of drainage and landings
739 880$00
Foundations cost
542 330$00
Construction cost (2 rings)
5 968 000$00
Total cost (1956)
5 968 000$00
Illumination towers cost (1958)
4 135 464$65
3rd ring cost (1960)
15 815 947$50
3rd ring conclusion cost (1985)
521 673 020$10
Inauguration and 1st match date
01/12/1954, with FC Porto
Best attendance
135 000 people (04/01/1987, with FC Porto - CN I Division)
Other facilities
Pavilhão dos Desportos (15/05/1965)
Field 2 (Dirt field) field 1968; pitch/Grass field 1974; artificial grass 1977)
Field 3 (Grass field 17/10/1973)
Athletics track (18/05/1974)
Field 4 (Dirt field): 1975; reoriented: 1978; grass field: 1989)
8 Tennis courts (28/12/1975)
Swimming Pool (23/09/1978)
Multipurpose pavilion (28/02/1982)
3 Tennis courts (1983)
Swimming lessons pool (30/12/1985)

Top Matches

07/02/1960 9 - SL Benfica
0 - Boavista
Campeonato Nacional da I Divisão
06/11/1960 6 - SL Benfica
0 - Ujpest (Hungria)
Taça dos Clubes Campeões Europeus (Last 8, 1st leg)
08/11/1961 5 - SL Benfica
1 - FK Áustria de Viena
Taça dos Clubes Campeões Europeus (Last 8, 2nd leg)
22/02/1962 6 - SL Benfica
0 - FC Nuremberga (Alemanha)
Taça dos Clubes Campeões Europeus (Quarter-finals, 2nd leg).
24/02/1965 5 - SL Benfica
1 - Real Madrid
Taça dos Clubes Campeões Europeus (Quarter-finals, 1st leg).
06/10/1965 10 - SL Benfica
0 - Stade Dudelange (Luxemburgo)
Taça dos Clubes Campeões Europeus (Last 16, 2nd leg) (1).
30/04/1972 6 - SL Benfica
0 - FC Porto
Taça de Portugal (semi-final).
19/11/1978 5 - SL Benfica
0 - Sporting
Campeonato Nacional da I Divisão.
30/03/1980 8 - SL Benfica
0 - Belenenses
Campeonato Nacional da I Divisão.
28/04/1946 14 - SL Benfica
1 - Riachense
Taça de Portugal (Last 16) (2).

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