ESSMA Stadium Industry Updates – 03 October 2023
FC Barcelona's record-breaking financial year, Real Madrid's Bernabéu memorabilia, Sevilla's redevelopment project, Vienna's journey to a sustainable stadium and much more in our latest stadium industry updates!
Venue revenue record sees Barcelona beat financial projections
FC Barcelona has hailed record revenue from venue operations as the Spanish LaLiga football club outperformed its financial projections for the 2022-23 year amid the ongoing Espai Barça project. Barcelona’s Board of Directors has announced that the 2022-23 financial year closed with a net profit of €304m after tax, higher than the €274m projected in last year’s report. During the 2022-23 season, Barcelona achieved, on a consolidated level, operating income of €1.259bn compared to last year’s €1.02bn and profit of €98m.
Barcelona said it has made improvements in all lines of business, recording figures higher than expected in each of them, but has highlighted record results in commercial and venue operations. Barcelona posted an average attendance of 83,497 for LaLiga matches held at the Spotify Camp Nou during the 2022-23 season, the highest figure recorded in the 21st century.
Real Madrid launches Bernabéu memorabilia project
Real Madrid has launched a venture selling off items removed from the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu as part of its major redevelopment project. A dedicated website has been established whereby fans can purchase items from the ‘old’ Bernabéu in what the club claims is the most ambitious and extensive memorabilia programme in the history of sport.
More than 100,000 items will be available from the stadium, which is currently undergoing the biggest transformation in its 75-year history. The first items that can be purchased through the portal will be the old stadium seats, which will be transformed and personalised through what Real claims will be an “innovative and creative digital experience”.
Real members will have priority in the purchase of these seats, which can be customised through the addition of designer bases. Real said: “This initiative has been conceived in a sustainable way, since by reusing the 80,000 replaced seats more than 100 tonnes of plastic are prevented from having a negative impact on the environment. The custom seat bases will be made with a special 3D printing design using 100% recycled plastic.”
Liverpool secures Dynasty investment to cover stadium work, other costs
Global sports investment firm Dynasty Equity has completed a strategic common equity minority investment in Liverpool, with owner Fenway Sports Group insisting that its commitment to the Premier League club remains “as strong as ever”.
Liverpool said the investment from New York-based Dynasty will primarily be used to pay down bank debt incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and capital expenses made to expand Anfield, build the AXA Training Centre, repurchase the Melwood training ground, and acquisitions during the summer transfer window. The club’s Anfield Road Stand expansion project has been delayed in recent months due to the financial problems faced by Buckingham Group Contracting, the developer that had been leading the project.
Bath Rugby submits stadium planning application
Premiership club Bath Rugby has submitted a planning application to Bath & North East Somerset Council for its new stadium project. The application includes an 18,000-capacity stadium with enhanced accessibility provisions, a “contemporary and sensitive” design, a new hybrid pitch, a regeneration of the nearby riverside area, a host of sustainability measures, and a riverside café/restaurant, club shop and museum for non-matchday use.
A statutory planning process will now follow, which will result in the application being considered by a council planning committee in due course.
AC Milan takes first formal step on road to San Donato
AC Milan has officially announced for the first time that it is pursuing a new stadium project away from its current Stadio Giuseppe Meazza home. The Serie A football club said that it has “completed the first formal step”, in view of the potential future submission of a full project plan, by presenting to the San Donato Milanese council an urban development proposal for the San Francesco area. Milan in July was reported to have strengthened its focus on the comune of San Donato Milanese as a home for a potential new stadium by acquiring a majority stake in the company which owns the land being targeted, Sportlifecity.
Olympique Lyonnais considering sale of LDLC Arena
Olympique Lyonnais is seeking to give up part or full control of its new LDLC Arena as part of wider efforts by the French Ligue 1 football club’s new ownership group to shore up its financial position. US technology entrepreneur John Textor, through his holding company Eagle Football Holdings, completed a takeover of Lyon in December, but has already encountered multiple challenges in his first year of ownership. Textor told the Financial Times of his plans. Textor, who previously stated he aimed to pay off all Lyon’s debt not linked to its Groupama Stadium within two years, said he was currently in the process of “paring off non-core assets to focus on football”, adding that Lyon had been “way too heavy on physical assets”.
Espai Barça chief ‘set to depart’
FC Barcelona is facing further upheaval for its Espai Barça facilities development venture, with the project’s executive director, Àlex Barbany, set to depart from his position, according to multiple Spanish media reports. Barcelona-based newspaper El Periódico, which first reported the news, said Barbany will leave the LaLiga football club on September 30. The decision is said to have been communicated internally by the club, with Barbany reportedly departing at his own request. Barbany joined Barcelona in March 2021, initially as chief revenue officer, having spent his career in the real estate sector. He was appointed executive director of Espai Barça in April 2022.
Vienna seeks European first for Ernst Happel Stadion
The City of Vienna has revealed plans to make Ernst Happel Stadion the first energy self-sufficient stadium in Europe, adding it is considering a new retractable roof to enhance the venue’s ability to stage events throughout the year. The announcements were made as the City detailed the interim results of a study that was commissioned in the spring to assess further investment in the stadium, which it owns and operates. These results show that while the current listed roof and main structure of the stadium can be used until at least the mid-2060s, improvements can be made elsewhere.
In 2024, the City said a photovoltaic system will be built on the roof to cover the stadium’s electricity consumption all year round, adding this will make the Ernst Happel the first energy self-sufficient stadium on the continent. The planned photovoltaic project, expected to cost between €10m and €12m, will be one of the largest rooftop systems in the Austrian capital with an annual yield of 4,377 MWh. That is around 800 MWh more than the energy currently required for the stadium.
Udinese signs sustainability-focused stadium naming rights deal
Italian utilities firm, Bluenergy Group, has stepped up its backing of Udinese by acquiring naming rights to its stadium, with the deal set to further an emphasis on sustainability projects. Under the five-year deal announced last Wednesday, the Serie A football club’s home will now be known as Bluenergy Stadium. As the partnership develops, Bluenergy, which is based in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Udinese will collaborate on initiatives dedicated to the local region’s environment, people and the economy.
Sevilla stadium redevelopment cost rockets
José María del Nido Carrasco, chief executive of Sevilla, has revealed that the LaLiga club’s budget for a major redevelopment of the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán has increased from €200m to €350m. Sevilla plans on opening the new-look stadium on July 1, 2028. The stadium’s capacity will increase from 42,500 to 55,000, with Del Nido Carrasco stating that 10% of the seats will be for VIP guests. The Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán would become the sixth largest stadium in Spain, behind the Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabéu, Cívitas Metropolitano, Benito Villamarín and La Cartuja.
Cádiz president targets new stadium
Cádiz CF president Manuel Vizcaíno has expressed his desire to build a new stadium for the LaLiga club with a capacity of 30,000 to 35,000 fans. Cádiz currently plays at the 25,000-capacity Nuevo Mirandilla, which opened in 1955. Vizcaíno believes the stadium has become too small to satisfy the demand for tickets. In an interview with local newspaper Diario de Cádiz, Vizcaíno said that any new stadium would have to be a “transformable building” that could host events throughout the year.
The president said that there is a desire from all relevant parties to build a new stadium in the Andalusian city, but talks appear to be at an early stage. Vizcaíno said that if approval was granted today, the stadium could be open by 2026.