Report: Real Madrid tap Telefónica for Bernabeu digital revamp

Report: Real Madrid tap Telefónica for Bernabeu digital revamp
Reigning European soccer champions Real Madrid are set to allocate €100 million (US$112.8 million) of the budget for their stadium redevelopment to Telefónica in an attempt to digitally transform the Santiago Bernabeu.

According to Palco23, the new contract between Real and Telefónica would make the Spanish telecommunications giant one of the LaLiga side’s biggest sponsors. Telefónica previously had a deal with the club for part of the 2016/17 season and the duration of the 2017/18 campaign, but opted not to extend that partnership when it expired.

It is not yet known whether the new contract will be an upgrade on the previous arrangement between the two parties, although Palco23 says that deal saw Telefónica pay Real €15 million over the period from March 2017 to June 2018.

“It is a contract that goes far beyond the simple economic consideration for advertising, it is going to be a key alliance in the digital transformation of the stadium,” a source told Palco23.

Telefónica’s brief is likely to be similar to what the company received from Real’s cross-city rivals Atlético Madrid, who appointed the telecommunications firm in 2017 to install much of the technological infrastructure at their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Earlier this week Atletico extended that technology deal with Telefónica until 2024, with both parties committing to the roll out of a big data platform to improve the experience of the club’s fans, as well as an app-based fast track service to collect food and drinks at games.

In terms of the Bernabeu’s digital transformation, Real want absolute connectivity at the 81,044-seater stadium, including free Wi-Fi access for all spectators. The club’s 2017/18 annual report also outlined a desire to equip the venue with a 360-degree video scoreboard, as well as the latest advances in digital technology and the application of audiovisual media in various parts of the stadium.

Real president Florentino Perez has said that the estimated cost of Real’s stadium project is €525 million (US$592 million) and revealed in the last assembly of club partners that around €100 million of that would be spent on technology and innovation.

Reports that Real are prepared to enlist Telefónica’s services for the Bernabeu project come in the same week that Spanish outlet El Confidencial reported that the club have secured a €575 million (US$650 million) loan for the redevelopment from US banks Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan.

The Spanish digital news outlet’s report says that the club are estimated to pay for financing over a period of 30 years, with a maximum interest of 2.5 per cent, amounting to an annual payment of €25 million (US$28.2 million).

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