Malaga was a Phoenician and Roman city that also served as a capital for the Arab Kingdoms. It was a flourishing and pioneering city in the Iberian Peninsula such that it became the most important industrial city in Spain in the 19th century. This pioneering spirit is preserved today and it is reflected in such public works as the Martin Carpena Arena, one of the most important and modern multi-sports facilities in the country.
With its approximately 600,000 residents, Malaga is Spain’s sixth largest city by population and the second largest in Andalusia. Located between the Malaga Mountains and the Guadalhorce Valley, it has been an object of desire throughout history. Moreover, Malaga, as it was named by the Phoenicians, offered important deposits of silver, copper, and enviable conditions as a natural port, is located in the far western side of the Mediterranean and some 100 km. from what is now the Strait of Gibraltar.
Interest in this city has enabled its historic path to be influenced by many peoples such that they have left their mark and along with it a rich architectural legacy. The Muslim Malaga has left us the castle built on top of Gibralfaro Mountain, which dates back to the 14th century. After that period, and under the Christian rule of the city, the Cathedral of the Incarnation was built in the renaissance style. Near the cathedral lies Bishop’s Palace, a baroque building built in the classicist style.
This very same innovating spirit remains alive today through the multicolored civic contemporary architectural legacies such as the Atarazanas Market (dating from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries), the “Love Parade” residential building, the Miramar Building or the Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta (Malagueta Bulls Square). Therefore, it is no surprise that in 1999 the José María Martín Carpena Sports Arena was built, the main sports facility of the city, the largest sports complex in Andalusia and one of the most important in all of Spain.
The Martín Carpena pavilion was conceived for ACB Basketball league matches and for the celebration of all kinds of public events with an initial capacity of 8,911 seats. It is known for being the ‘home base’ for the Malaga Unicaja basketball team.
Having a surface area of 22,000 m², the arena is located on top of an area spanning 30,000 m², and it is made up of a single unit with four levels.
The installation currently relies on two multi-sport tracks, a central and an auxiliary one, along with a gymnasium, saunas, a fencing hall, a martial arts hall, two paddleball courts, and various multi-purpose halls for all kinds of activities as well as a conference hall.
It also has a TV production centre, a medical facility, a radiology clinic specialized in sports medicine. The building houses separate facilities for the exclusive use of the C.B. Málaga basketball team such as the locker room, a gym, a physiotherapy hall, rooms for coaches and trainers, a laundry and a storage area. The building is so versatile that more than 500 people use it everyday.
Santiago González, director of the Naos Architectural firm, in charge of the project to renovate the sports area in 2010, explained that the goal of the first phase of the project was to increase the spectators’ capacity by 1,123 seats. In order to achieve this, the seats in the higher areas were re-arranged, the mobile seats below were moved and the lower corners of the pavilion were utilized by installing new telescopic bleachers. The latter replaced the ones that had already been installed by Mondo in 1999, which at the time represented the largest ones ever installed. The new bleachers represent a technical evolution seeing as they replaced the semi-automated controlled system, for a completely automatic one in its horizontal movement and opening and folding procedure for the seats. The latter are more comfortable owing to a more ergonomic design.
A modern press area was similarly built covering all needs insofar as connections that might be needed by all media, easing the daily work needed for the installation. Having such attributes, the Martín Carpena facility has a capacity of 10,823 spectators.
In addition, the flooring was replaced by a removable wooden floor: Mondo’s Fast Break System 2, which offered the best characteristics for top-level basketball use while also being easily and quickly assembled and disassembled, in order to be able to hold any type of non-sports related event. Mondo also installed a video scoreboard in the centre made of 13 video-screens joined together which is the largest in Spain and one of the largest in Europe. The old corner scoreboards were also replaced with four new ‘Pegasus’ models. The Martin Carpena facility could already rely on a set of Mondoathens baskets with their related and linked 24’ scoreboards, which remain in use after the renovation of the sports arena.
“The renovation was completed in record time because it had to be done during the ACB League summer break. The work began in May 2010 and the first match as held in October 2010, which amounted to a five month period. Therefore, this required a great coordination effort,” said Santiago González.
The re-inauguration and golden test for the renovated facility took place on October 9, 2010, the very day that Unicaja played its first ACB League match of the season at home against Caja Laboral, which it defeated 76 to 69.
Apart from Unicaja’s fans, if there is anyone else who is satisfied with the renovation, he is Antonio Jesús López Nieto, the manager of Sports’ and Events Málaga, who explains that the “reliability, innovation, quality and especially the versatility”, of the new installations, now allow him to “host first class events such as concerts, family shows such as Disney and in the future even Cirque du Soleil, top level sports competitions, such as the ACB and Euroleague leagues, and all of this on a weekly basis”.
According to Antonio Jesús López Nieto, there needs to be an additional project to expand the arena in order to accommodate 13,000 spectators by projecting an additional set of bleachers at the higher part of the building. This would allow for the hosting of some European level final matches, which require capacities exceeding 12,000 spectators.
Antonio Jesús López says that the maintenance of the sports arena is technically complex, “because it has first class facilities in all areas in order to host sports events and competitions of the highest level offering the required degree of comfort and versatility”. Therefore, “all the electrical hardware, climate control, water infrastructure, and the like are managed by a computer controlled system that allows us to turn the facilities on and off remotely through preset programs, thereby optimizing the efficiency and functionality of our equipment, as well as the energy consumption”.
Mondo Ibérica has produced, managed and installed motorized video scoreboards with variable height in respect to the track and depending on the type of event to be held. The combination of 13 video screens is offered in three different levels:
1st level: 8 video screens installed in the centre of the pavilion in an octagonal structure. Each structure has a 256 x 192 pixels resolution with a total graphic surface of 3,072 x 2,304 mm.
2nd level: 4 video screens installed below the front ones and integrated in a quadrangular structure. The resolution in each screen is 384 x 288 pixels ad the total graphic surface is 4,608 x 3,456 mm.
3rd level: 1 circular LED ring with 1,280 x 64 pixels resolution and a graphic surface of 15,360 x 576 mm.