On Friday, the Southwest Madrilenian city of Alcorcón was confirmed as the destination for the European version of Las Vegas.
The project, dubbed ‘Eurovegas‘, is being financed by Sheldon Adelson’s company Sands Corporation, which operates The Venetian and the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Adelson, who, according to Forbes is the 12th richest American with a net woth of $20.5 billion, has already successfully transposed the Las Vegas secret formula in the Far East (in Macau and Singapore) and is now looking to start a similar project in Madrid.
The roughly-below 2,500 acres of space planned to hold Eurovegas will be the home of at least three super hotels: the flagship of the project, Hotel Me, Hotel Circo – designed to become a Cirque du Soleil HQ, and the Times Square Resort – resembling the always fascinating New York midtown Manhattan district.
The huge space of undeveloped land called “La Venta de la Rubia” (I promise Forlán is not involved here) is the same space Atlético has been eyeing for years to develop into its new training facilities.
Are they worried at the Vicente Calderón that this will make them have to start their training grounds project from scratch? Far from it.
Adelson’s project is estimated to take up a third of the space, around 750 acres. Atletico’s project has always been said to require around 380 acres. Even more, both plans include high-end golf courses with excellent views of the Madrilenian mountains as one of their star attractions to diversify their range of services.
What can we expect in the months to come? Enrique Cerezo, the instrumental president of the club appointed by majority shareholder Miguel Angel Gil Marín, is renown for his close friendship with the part of the governing PP party that is spearheading Adelson’s disembarkment in Spain.
The mayor of Alcorcón, the Regional President and the highly influential PP Madrilean President, are all said to have a close relationship with Enrique Cerezo. Therefore, we can only expect them to find ways of fitting both projects together. Perhaps even establishing a joint venture between Atlético Madrid and Sands Corporation to operate the golf facilities is a possibility.
Debt-ridden Atlético have been far from enthusiastic about shelling out money to push the training facilities plan forward. Plus, the whole land is in a court dispute over whether it can actually be used for building what Alcorcón plans to place there.
Yet, this is Spain, and normally courts don’t stand a chance of stopping anything from being built. Maybe the court process will delay things, but I highly doubt they will even come close to endangering the operation. Since 2008, Atlético have been promising to initiate construction for the training facilities, but nothing has been done so far.
Bank financing for the endeavour and solving the court issues seem to be closer now that Adelson is playing on Atleti’s side. With those issues ironed out, Atleti have always said it would only take 10 to 11 months to develop the training facilities. Yet we have the Peineta Stadium as a perfect example of the club’s incapacity to deliver on time.
With thousands of future job opportunities at stake in the current unemployment-stricken Spain, and enormous prospects of economical and commercial growth in the whole region of Madrid, expect nothing but red carpet treatment for mostly anything that Sheldon Adelson and Sands Corp. request.
Again, this is good news for Atleti, who can get on the Adelson bandwagon and speed up the development of a top flight training facility in what will soon become one of the most attractive places to visit in Europe.
The nation’s government of the same conservative party is in the midst of an internal dispute for control over the party, with the Madrid-based faction of the PP (People’s Party). Yet they are likely to set their internal disputes aside and ease Sands Corp.’s arrival into Spain as much as possible.
In this dispute, Atlético will finally have a chance for payback after enduring the eternal loser role in the Madrid football realm, where neighbourhood club Real Madrid have been favoured endlessly as public institutions seem to immorally benefit from the privately owned club.
Previous PP Government’s in Madrid have deeply influenced Real Madrid’s recent wealth and rise to become the economical behemoth it currently is. Let me illustrate this with a few examples:
The previous training facility was swapped for highly attractive space in the Valdebebas district north of Madrid, along with a huge amount of money. The four-tower complex erected in that area (the highest skyscrapers in Spain), were dubbed “los Galácticos” because the fee Real Madrid received for the space was spent on bringing in Figo, Ronaldo, Zidane and Beckham to the club during Florentino Pérez’ first tenure as president.
Additionally, there’s the VIP treatment Real Madrid receive when it comes to space planning. The Santiago Bernabéu has undergone heavy transformations in the last 20 years, mainly to create a highly profitable venue seven days a week.
All operations were swiftly greenlighted by the regional and local governments, while we all know how many problems Atlético have had improving the Vicente Calderón and how fans have had to endure half a decade of patching around the ground when the new M-30 ring road was being built.
Nothing there has remained to profit Atlético and the stadium has decayed into an old, shabby and maybe even beyond repair space, despite the fact that it is 20 years younger than its high-tech neighbour to the north.
Nobody has managed to convincingly explain why a move to a new stadium in a remote district of Madrid would benefit Atlético more than building a much better one in the same space like Athletic Club have done.
Or, why several more sensible and interesting venues and possibilities available haven’t been considered.
The location of Atleti’s former stadium, the Metropolitano, is nearby, as is the still-to-be-developed Campamento demilitarised quarter of Madrid; the latter only miles from the Vicente Calderón, close to Alcorcón, very well-connected and currently serving no purpose.
From my point of view as a Madrid taxpayer, it is an absolute disgrace that clubs rely on luring local politicians into striking a good deal that will secure privately owned clubs huge amounts of money, while incurring debt, in infrastructure costs, on the general population.
On the other hand, it is about time Atlético had the training facility it deserves and which will help it inch closer to recovering that place in European top flight football it should never have stepped down from.
If Sheldon Adelson is the man to make this come true, we can only say: Viva Eurovegas!