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Special Report

Real Madrid resort on track for 2015 opening

Published in Sports Management 2013 issue 1
The ‘sportertainment’ resort will mix a world-class sports venue with a large tourist attraction
The ‘sportertainment’ resort will mix a world-class sports venue with a large tourist attraction

An opening date has been set for the US$1bn (£632m, E756m) Real Madrid Island Resort, currently under construction in Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. Built under the Spanish football club’s brand, the 50-hectare (124-acre) Real Madrid Resort Island complex is a joint venture between the club and the government of Ras al-Khaimah and is set to open in January 2015.

When complete, it will combine modern, world-class sports venues with entertainment facilities and will feature a large theme park and luxury hotels, as well as a residential scheme. There will also be a Real Madrid museum and a number of other branded leisure, hospitality and retail spaces.

The centrepiece of the resort will be a 10,000-capacity stadium – claimed to be the first to offer uninterrupted views of the sea on one side. It will be used for a wide range of sporting and cultural events and there are also plans to use the stadium as the emirate state’s new national venue. A special ‘sport port’ will also be created, alongside a luxury marina and yacht club - with the entire development being built in the shape of the Real Madrid club emblem.

To new frontiers
Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, has described the “sportertainment” project as being an integral part of the club’s future as it looks to gain a foothold in the potentially lucrative Middle Eastern and Asian markets.

Football is growing in popularity across the region and a number of leading European clubs – including Real Madrid’s arch-rivals FC Barcelona – are keen to increase the level of awareness of their brands. FC Barcelona recently established a soccer school in the Emirate state of Abu Dhabi, while the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea actively market themselves across India, China and Japan.

Perez said: “When the Real Madrid Resort Island opens its gates, visitors will become part of the legend of this club, which strives to be eternal and universal. The world of sports and Real Madrid again prove they have no boundaries and that football is a fantastic tool with which to make different people and cultures come together.

“Real Madrid Resort Island will be a sports tourist complex of the highest level, covering 50 hectares in which tourism and sport will seduce millions of people in search of quality leisure activities.”

According to financial analyst Deloitte’s annual Money League, Real Madrid is still the world’s richest football club, with annual income of around £480m. It is followed on the list by FC Barcelona (£451m), Manchester United (£367m) and German giants Bayern Munich (£321m). The Ras al-Khaimah resort will add another revenue stream as the target for first-year visits to the attraction has been set at a million people.

Transforming fortunes
Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, said: “This is an exciting project developed with a world-leading brand. We are proud of being chosen by Real Madrid. We appreciate their vision and we have a million reasons to be optimistic. I wish to congratulate Florentino Perez for his farsightedness and for where he’s taken this club. This is going to transform the United Arab Emirates. We are ready to embrace progress and the millions of visitors who will come to Real Madrid Resort Island.”

Louis-Armand de Rougé has been named chief executive of RAK Marjan Island Football, the entity behind the project. De Rougé said: “Football is continually growing in the Middle East. Real Madrid have more than 300 million fans throughout the world and more than half live in Asia. We will bring Real Madrid closer to these people, who will be able to get to know the club better. The Real Madrid brand is iconic.”

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