A social media row between Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal fans over which club will play their matches at Al-Awwal Park for the remainder of the season seems to have been resolved, after several days of confusion and ire were followed by the confirmation that Cristiano Ronaldo and co will continue to be the venue’s lone tenants during the 2023-24 Saudi Pro League campaign.
Al-Hilal, meanwhile, will play their matches at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, as will another Roshn Saudi League team, Riyadh Club.
The row erupted when the Saudi Media Co., which currently owns the right to King Saud University Stadium, or Al-Awwal Park, changed the colors of its account on X, formerly Twitter, from current tenants Al-Nassr’s yellow and blue to lilac, which many took to mean that another team, likely Al-Hilal, will be playing their home matches at the venue.
On social media, a debate raged between supporters of the two clubs, particularly as the Saudi Ministry of Sports has plans to comprehensively develop the King Fahd International Stadium and Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, Al-Hilal’s recent home, in preparation for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
Matters were not helped by the lack of clarity from SMC, who, on Sept. 2, issued the following statement: “In reference to the media inquiries regarding SMC’s agreement with a Saudi club to play its matches on the Al-Awwal Park stadium, and due to our belief in the importance of responding and effectively engaging with media institutions and clarifying the situation to the interested sports audience, SMC would like to emphasize that it values and respects all of the nation’s clubs equally.
“However, the company is committed to its exclusive contract to make the Al-Awwal Park stadium the main and exclusive venue for the pro team of Al-Nassr Club, one of the Public Investment Fund’s companies.”
The ambiguous message failed to unequivocally deny Al-Hilal will play at Al-Awwal Park, though, and the ongoing row between the two clubs left Al-Nassr fans demanding that Al-Hilal not be allowed to play at their stadium, saying that failure to do so will be seen as a “betrayal.”
Meanwhile, fans of Al-Hilal began circulating rumors that SMC had requested that their club play at Al-Awwal Park due to its large fanbase and potential to raise the profile of the stadium. They also speculated that the change of color of SMC’s X account was done to obtain Al-Hilal’s approval, though this has not been commented on officially by any of the parties.
However, it has now been confirmed that Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium will not be closed for renovation this season, meaning it will continue to be home to Al-Hilal and Riyadh Club, while Al-Nassr will have Al-Awwal Park to themselves.
Al-Awwal Park was inaugurated on May 7, 2015, by KSU, to host the university’s sporting activities.
On Oct. 9, 2017, Sela Sports Co. reached an agreement with KSU to host Al-Hilal’s Saudi Pro League and AFC Champions League match there.
In November of 2018, in one of its largest events, the stadium hosted “WWE Crown Jewel” and then, a year later, the AFC Champions League final between Al-Hilal and Urawa Red Diamonds.
In 2020, the university put the stadium out to tender, and SMC obtained the rights to operate it for 10 years. On Oct. 26, 2020, SMC signed a contract with Al-Nassr to make the stadium the official venue for the team’s matches.
The stadium has a capacity of 25,000 people; the second and third sections can accommodate 22,000 spectators and the first 2,000, in addition to seats for VIPs and royalty.
It includes five television and radio broadcast rooms, in addition to a press conference hall.