Estadio Hernando Siles is a multi-purpose sports stadium located in the Western Bolivian city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz which is the home of the country’s government center and third most populous city. The 41,143 capacity ground is the largest in the country is the home of the Bolivian national football team and two top tier local sides, Club The Strongest and Club Bolivar, and other local club La Paz Fútbol Club.
Estadio Hernando Siles officially opened on 16th January 1930, after a three year period of construction with the inaugural football held a held later between residents The Strongest and their historic rivals, Club Universitario. Since completion, the stadium has also been home to two other football clubs: Club Bolivar and La Paz F.C plus the Bolivian National Team.
Named after Bolivia’s 31st President, Hernando Siles Reyes who was serving the country at the time, the stadium is the largest in the country with a capacity today of 41,143 although it is comparatively small to other South American National Stadiums. Argentina’s Monumental Liberti has a capacity of 67,664 and Uruguay’s Estadio Centenary has room for 65,235 fans although both countries do have larger populations.
Estadio Hernando Siles is famous for being located within the Miraflores borough of La Paz which has an altitude of over 3,600 metres or just under 12,000 feet above seal level. In May 2007 FIFA caused controversy by banning stadiums with altitudes greater than 2,500 metres from hosting World Cup Qualification matches which ruled Hernando Siles ineligible, after deeming it an unfair advantage to the home teams.
After appeals, the limit was relaxed to 3,000 metres a few months later with Estadio Hernando Siles receiving special dispensation to host matches as its altitude still exceeded the newly increased limits. Located high up within the mountainous Andes region, some felt that the rule was discriminatory against some South American teams particularly with Bolivia’s failing to qualify for a World Cup since USA 1994.