The San Nicola stadium in Bari was designed by Renzo Piano for the 1990 World Cup. After thirty years, it was redeveloped to comply with regulations and host international events. Mapei contributed with products for the refurbishment of the structures.

The Stadium

For Italy, 1990 was the year of the World Cup and the Vittoria stadium in Bari was declared unsuitable to host matches. As a result, it was decided to build a brand-new stadium with Renzo Piano commissioned for its design, earning it the nickname of the “spaceship” due to its characteristic architectural conformation.
Built with several modifications with respect to the original design (for instance, an athletics track was added), the stadium was handed over to the city authorities in May 1990.
The new stadium was named San Nicola, after the patron saint of the city. Apart from World Cup matches in 1990, over the years other important competitions have been held there, such as the final of the Champions League in 1991.
After thirty years of service the stadium needed significant renovation work, also to bring it into line with new FIFA (International Federation of Football Association) standards.
MAPEFER 1K (now available as MAPEFER 1K ZERO) was used to protect the steel reinforcing rods.

The work to modernise

The first part of the work started in January 2020 with the replacement of the seats in the east stand, the upper west stand, and the area reserved for visiting fans, along with restoration work on the steps and an upgrade to the emergency exits. The second phase of the work started in the spring of 2022, with new seats installed in various areas of the stadium, the stands behind the goals, the west stand and the press box, as well as a complete overhaul of the pitch and the replacement of all the floodlights. The final phase of the work was carried out in 2023 with restoration work on the Teflon roof covering the entire stadium.
The renovation work has enabled the San Nicola Stadium to be compliant for international matches and to be a candidate for the final stages of the 2032 European Championships. Also, after seven years away from the scene, in 2023 the Italian national team returned to playing in the stadium again.
PLANITOP FAST 330 was used to level off concrete surfaces.

A winning match for Mapei

Mapei was involved in the work to modernise the stadium in Bari and to bring it line with the new safety standards. Various rapid products were proposed to ensure work was completed on schedule.
Work started with the removal of all the old seats from the upper east stand. It soon became clear, however, that it would not be possible to use the same holes to anchor the new seats in place due to the bolts being completely rusted. This is why it was decided to grout the old holes, fill the cracks with a specific resin (EPORIP) and then create new holes to position the seats using MAPEFIX EP 400 chemical anchor which is now avail-able as MAPEFIX EP 100.
All the areas where the concrete for the steps had become degraded or detached were restored, after removing all the damaged concrete and carefully cleaning the substrates, by applying the fibre-reinforced mortarsMAPEGROUT THIXOTROPIC, PLANITOP SMOOTH&REPAIR R2 and PLANITOP SMOOTH&REPAIR R4 (which have now been replaced by MAPEGROUT THIXOTROPIC ZERO, PLANITOP SMOOTH&REPAIR ZERO and PLANITOP SMOOTH&REPAIR R4 ZERO). The latter two products are thixotropic cementitious mortars, classes R2 and R4 according to EN 1504-3 standard respectively, characterised by their rapid-setting properties. They can be applied in thicknesses ranging from 3 to 44 mm. Protection of the exposed steel reinforcement rods was carried out using MAPEFER 1K one-component mortar (now replaced by MAPEFER 1K ZERO).
A view of the seats after completion of the works.
MAPEBAND TPE waterproof elastic tape was applied on the horizontal structural joints on the steps, a product recommended for the flexible waterproofing seal of expansion joints subjected to movements of up to 10 mm. The tape was bonded with ADESILEX PG4 two-component, thixotropic epoxy adhesive.
After being thoroughly cleaned, the horizontal surfaces were then levelled off with PLANITOP FAST 330 fibre-reinforced, rapid-setting, cementitious mortar.
To make sure the joints were water-tight and perfectly sealed the product employed was MAPEFLEX PU S 15, a low-modulus, paintable polyurethane sealant for movements of up to 25%. To obtain the correct depth of the MAPEFLEX PU S 15 layer and prevent it sticking to the bottom of the joints, MAPEFOAM closed-cell,  foam polyethylene cord was inserted in the joints beforehand. The edges of the joints were then primed with PRIMER A, one-component, ready-to-use primer for polyurethane sealants,
MAPECOAT TNS RACE TRACK was applied to protect and finish off the access steps to all stands, a coloured, waterborne, rapid film-forming, acrylic resin-based coating product used to protect concrete and asphalt surfaces subjected to high volumes of footfall and vehicles. Before applying the protective coating, the surfaces were treated with MAPECOAT TNS PRIMER EPW solvent-free epoxy primer.

Project information

San Nicola stadium, Bari (Italy)
Design: Renzo Piano
Period of construction: 1987-1990
Period of the intervention: 2020-2023
Intervention by Mapei: supplying products for repairing damaged concrete, protecting reinforcing rods, sealing joints, coating surfaces 
Owner: Bari City Council
Infrastructures, roads and public works direction: Claudio Laricchia
Project manager: Antonio Toritto 
Works direction: Fernando Ciavarella
Safety management: Pietro Fiorino, Francesco Bello, Giorgio Bellomo
Site technical direction: Nicola Toscano (Toscano Srl), Vito Suriano (Vira)  
Contractors: Toscano Srl, Vira Srl, Costruzioni Ferrarese Srl
Mapei distributors: D’Ambrosio Edilizia Srl; Particolori Srl
Mapei coordinators: Giammario Dispoto, Michelangelo Occhiogrosso, Angelo Coco, Achille Carcagnì, Mapei SpA (Italy)
Product Lines
Admixtures for concrete
Elastic sealants and adhesives
Products for sports flooring
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