Despite the economical woes the country was going through at the time, especially the Basque people, 52.6% of the total cost of the €211m stadium were paid by public institution - some by the Basque government, some by the Bilbao City Council and some by the Biscay Provincial Council.
The new stadium was built next to the prior San Mamés on land that was occupied until 2003 by the Bilbao International Trade Fair. Initially, three-quarters of the new stadium were built and then matches took place in the new stadium, and the old one was demolished to make room to complete the new stadium.
San Mames was inaugurated on 16 September 2013. The inaugural match was a league match played at 22:00pm between the hosts Athletic Club and Celta Vigo, which the local team won 3–2.
On 19 September 2014, San Mames was selected as one of the 13 venues to host matches at UEFA Euro 2020. San Mames will host three group stage matches and one Round of 16 match in the tournament.