The land was transferred in 1999 and the property was inaugurated in 2001. But the transformation occurred in the last five years. Gallardo’s team will be local in the League Cup until the works at the Monumental are completed.
Marcelo Gallardo was sitting on a chair in the dining room-restaurant of the Ezeiza property and around him were the journalists who regularly cover the day-to-day life of the club. As he spoke, his gaze went to the large window from where he could see two of the new fields that had been built and much of the structure of that 14-hectare field. It was a midday in December 2017. The coach had given the last press conference of that year, prior to the final of the Argentina Cup that his team would beat Atlético Tucumán in Mendoza.
“It is very important for a club to have a property like the one we have and to be able to develop it so that we can work here,” said the Doll, while recalling that even in Europe not all clubs have a sports field like River’s. His European experience indicated that there are not as many extensions of land as in Argentina and there are few who can afford to have large and highly developed properties.
And that first level sports field, called today RiverCamp, which was a wasteland two decades ago, will become River’s official field to play the Professional Football League Cup, given the impossibility of using the Monumental due to the reforms that are being made in the field of play. There Gallardo’s team will host Banfield on Sunday at 9:15 p.m. Claudio Tapia, the president of the AFA, visited and toured the facilities this Thursday and gave the go-ahead. Only the approval of Aprevide is missing.
Gone are the days when there were days when players changed in a bathroom or in the gym, or there were broken chairs, or when they returned to the club, the facilities were the same or worse than when they had left, such as stated by several former players. The property was neglected.
In turn, the technicians who passed from its inauguration -in 2001- until before the arrival of Gallardo, did not put too much emphasis on its development either. Some, not having a very large structure, and for convenience, preferred to go to the Monumental for more comfort. Others complained that it was taking time to arrive. And there was also a phrase from coach Daniel Passarella that remained to be remembered: “In Ezeiza it is a few degrees lower and in winter the players can get sick.” Ramón Díaz was not fascinated by going to the venue either, although in his last stage as a coach he used it more frequently.
The lands located on the side of the Ezeiza-Cañuelas highway, near the Ricchieri and 42 kilometers from the Monumental were transferred to River by the national State in February 1999 (before the end of the Menem decade) with a 99-year concession . And the property was officially inaugurated in November 2001 when the president was David Pintado, the vice president, Alfredo Davicce, shortly before the elections that would consecrate José María Aguilar, who had been secretary in the Pintado-Davicce administration.
From the moment the founding mosaic and memorial plaque were laid, the works progressed slowly to the point of stagnation for several years. When Rodolfo D’Onofrio assumed his first term, in December 2013, the venue had three courts (one of them with stands where the local, visitor and referee changing rooms were located below), an annexed gymnasium sector, another office staff, the press room and a small dining room.
With Gallardo as DT, River began to do all the training sessions on the premises, except for the last one prior to a match that was held at the Monumental so that later the team was concentrated. For the Doll it was and is essential to take advantage of the property to work quietly, away from noise and with plenty of space. And there were more concerns on his mind: he wanted to transform the structure, modernize it, give it a European tinge so that River could have a first-rate sports field. As if he were an architect, he began to draw pictures on some papers and brought the ideas to the leadership.
In a meeting with the leadership he found that Guillermo Cascio (now deceased), first secretary then vice president of the club, also had plans to improve the property. And they agreed on what works had to be done to face the project.
Between 2016 and 2017 River inaugurated an 800-square-meter sector with new changing rooms for players (with a space for massages and a double Jacuzzi), another for the coaching staff, another for the medical department, another for nutrition and another for neurosciences; a 600 square meter dining room with a terrace, the fourth court and a half court for general work on the campus.
Between 2018 and 2019, a RiverCamp Amateur sector was presented in society, with two courts with double tribune each, local, visitor and referee changing rooms; another video-analysis; another 1,000 square meters of sand for physical work and the main court was illuminated with 8 towers and LED technology. And during this year the seventh court is being finished. In total, the property has 1,100 meters of civil works. In addition, all the courts have automatic sectored irrigation and there is WiFi in the 14 hectares.
To be a local there in the new Argentine tournament (the Professional Soccer League Cup) River put the grass of the main field of the property in excellent condition, placed canvases on the perimeter, there were improvements in the substitute benches and in the lights to strengthen them and a metallic structure of booths was assembled for the transmission of TV.
In this way, River made his farm grow and develop. And now you can afford to be a local there while you remodel the Monumental.