El Ejido – Estadio Municipal de Santo Domingo

Organised football came late to El Ejido, which until the early 1970’s was a small village on the road to nowhere in particular. Then, thanks to a horticultural boom, El Ejido grew and became prosperous. It’s lucky then that Club Polideportivo Ejido was founded on the eve of this boom and its rise has parallels with the growth of the city and its economic upturn. Salvador Alley was the founding President of the multi-faceted sports club, and  in 1970 it acquired land to the south east of the centre of town and opened the Campo de Santo Domingo. Those early years were spent almost exclusively in the regional Preferente, but as people and money started to arrive in El Ejido, so the club climbed the divisions.

Yet to bear fruit –  The old Campo de Santo Domingo in 2001

Poli arrived in the Tercera in 1987-88, thanks in part to the restructuring of the leagues. It took a further four seasons to win promotion to Segunda B, which was achieved thanks to victory in a play-off group featuring CD Villanovense, Cuenca UB & Cadiz B. It was at this point that the Municipality took over running of Campo de Santo Domingo, which was a small, but respectable stadium with a 50 metre main stand running down the west side of the ground. A few steps of hard standing surrounded the rest of the pitch. That first season in Segunda B saw Poli surprise many opponents and finish fifth, two points shy of the play-offs. The upward momentum didn’t last however and the squad had reached its sell-by date. Relegation back to the Tercera followed in 1994 and whilst there was a quick spurt for a return to Segunda B for the 96-97 season, Poli dropped back to the Tercera for the rest of the 1990’s.

The new Santo Domingo, before the stands were linked

The turn of the millennium brought a new President, Gabriel Hildalgo Martin, and coach, Antonio Tapia. Under their tutelage, Poli was to prosper. Promotion to Segunda B was achieved thanks to a second Tercera title and victory over Puerto Real, Albacete B & CD Villanovense in the play-offs. The rise continued with an excellent second place finish in the 2000-01 regular season. In the play-offs, Poli was pitched against, Espanyol B. Atletico Madrid B & Calahorra. Trailing Calahorra by three points with the final game to play in La Rioja, Poli pulled off a magnificent 2-0 victory to win promotion to La Segunda. Promotion had caught most people by surprise, including the club, who now faced the prospect of hosting the likes of Atlético Madrid, Sporting Gijón et el in a stadium that held little over 2,500. Temporary seating was quickly erected next to the main stand and on the east side of the ground, raising the capacity to the 5,000 mark. The first season in the second tier was always going to be difficult, but Poli survived thanks to a sound defence (only 48 goals conceded) and a last day victory over Racing Santander. The 1-0 win against Racing was the last match at the old Campo de Santo Domingo, which was demolished during the summer to make way for a new stadium.

Poli & Santo Domingo were La Segunda regulars in the mid 2000s

The new stadium was built fifty metres to the south east of the old ground and overlapped the old pitch. It initially comprised of a single raised cantilevered stand on the west side and a raised strip of seating to the east and was opened in time for the start of the 2002-03 season. The south terrace was built during the 2002-03 season and curved around to link both sides. An athletics track was also added during this phase. Blue, green and white seats were installed throughout the stadium in a pattern that reflects the flag of El Ejido. The north end was left open, but temporary seating was added to bring the capacity up to 9,000. Whilst built by the Municipality for the use of the club and community, Santo Domingo did have a wider use as it hosted football matches during the 2005 Mediterranean Games.

Estadio Municipal de Santo Domingo in 2011

Poli settled in well to their new surroundings and whilst they never challenged at the top end of La Segunda, they did achieve a decent run of finishes over the following six seasons. This came to an end when the club, beset with financial difficulties in the lead up to the 2007-08 season, finished bottom of the table six points from safety. The succeeding years saw Poli challenge for a return to La Segunda, but play-off defeats to Ponferradina and Barcelona B put an end to their dreams. Money, or lack of it, was still a problem, leading to the folding of their B team in the summer of 2011. Unfortunately, the club’s financial difficulties worsened and came to a head on 22 January 2012. After failing to field a team for the previous weeks away fixture, Poli fulfilled the home fixture against Lorca Deportivo, with a team made up of predominantly youth players and lost 0-14. A record home defeat in the top three divisions. The result was later annulled by an embarrassed Federation and the club apologised for the “misunderstanding”. The club promptly resigned from the league following that debacle and was officially wound-up on 30 June 2012.

Santo Domingo now hosts a phoenix from the flames

CD El Ejido 2012 rose from the ashes of the old club and currently play at Santo Domingo, reaching Segunda B in June 2016. As for the Estadio Santo Domingo, the temporary seating has disappeared and the capacity has now reduced to 7,870. Perfectly adequate for the club in a city the size of El Ejido. Santo Domingo is one of the better examples of a football stadium with an athletics track, ideal for another multi-millionaire greengrocer to take a team from El Ejido up the leagues.


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