Real Madrid struggle for Bernabeu naming rights deal

Potential investors wary of being overshadowed by stadium’s iconic status.

Real Madrid struggle for Bernabeu naming rights deal

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Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid are struggling to find a naming rights partner for their iconic Santiago Bernabeu stadium, according a report from Spanish digital news outlet El Confidencial.

Apparently the major stumbling block for brands is the risk of any name being overshadowed by the historic status of the Santiago Bernabeu, and the likelihood of the venue continuing to be referred to by its traditional name rather than that of any partnering brand.

According to El Confidencial , potential investors are said to have explained this to club president Florentino Perez and head of business operations Dave Hopkinson, expressing that the situation would be different if the club was building a new ground, rather than renaming and redeveloping the existing arena.

Aresnal’s Emirates Stadium, Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena and Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano were all built with the naming rights deal in mind, and all have seen naming partners benefit from their respective partnerships.

Hopkinson joined the club in June from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), where he was the company’s chief commercial officer, and one of his principal objectives has been to secure a naming rights deal for the iconic stadium.

During his time at MLSE, he played a key role in the CAN$800 million naming rights deal with Scotiabank, which saw the renaming of what was previously known as the Air Canada Centre – the home of National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) teams the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 81,044-seater Bernabeu, where Real Madrid have played since 1947, is to undergo a US$617.2 million overhaul in 2019. The club hope the revamp will generate an extra US$176.4 million annually, with an events space also to be built as part of the renovation work. The extent of the costs of the project has heightened the importance of a naming rights deal for the club.

In January, it was reported that a deal with Spanish oil and gas multinational company Cepsa had been in talks regarding a possible €400 million naming rights deal for the stadium, only for the deal to break down.