Innovation – it’s all around us and the exponential growth of technologies have already begun to weave their way into our lifestyles. Where once there was Blockbuster, now there is Netflix. We have the power of an entire computer, DVD player, MP3 player, and gaming system all wrapped up into one via a smart phone. As technologies continue to grow and we move into a world with autonomous cars, grocery stores without check-out lines, where carrying credit cards becomes obsolete, and drone deliveries become commonplace – modern brands, businesses, and institutions need to keep the pace or they will simply be left behind.
So what does this all mean to club president Florentino Perez and his beloved Real Madrid?
“Uncle Flo”, as many fans like to call him, is a maverick, an innovator, and most of all, a visionary. He may well be planning the last stroke up his sleeve as he enters what will likely be his last decade as Real Madrid president. Throughout the club’s history, it has been a leader in technology and innovation. Examples include the state of the art Santiago Bernabeu stadium tour, the immaculate Valdebedas training facilities, and the living corridors for first-team players.
The economic landscape of the global football business has changed with the introduction of financial takeovers like Abu Dhabi Ownership Group’s acquisition of Manchester City or the Qatari Foundation’s acquisition of PSG. The money now available to these clubs is supported, in essence, by whole countries, and wealthy ones at that. Their investments in players over the last few years has already transformed the market, inflating rates for players at a rampant pace.
These financial power-houses have forced Madrid to change course in the transfer market. Madrid finds young starlets and wraps them up before they are worth €300 million. But even so, why has Madrid been so keen on finding the best bargains given their own financial might? Gareth Bale was the last big money signing for Madrid and that was five years ago. Why? Because the club has lofty plans in the future which will need significant investment.
Florentino and the club are looking to stay one step ahead of the competition. How? By turning the Santiago Bernabeu into the greatest stadium in the world with unmatched entertainment and technology. “Once again, we must take on a challenge that will change our history. In this stadium, a large part of our legend was born and our greatness will continue to grow here,” Florentino Perez said while talking to Real Madrid TV.
The Bernabeu renovations will be Florentino’s lasting mark; the stadium developments plans are what he wants to be part of his lasting legacy. Some of the technology to be introduced in the coming decades will be jaw dropping. The total investment is estimated to be around €400 million.
A report from “The Future of Sports” by Charlie Jacobs may shed some light on what to expect: “Between now and 2040, stadiums will convert into mega avenues accommodating 250,000 people. Complexes will feature everything from picnic tables, bars and restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks.”
Ric Edelman, the author of “The Truth About Your Future” elaborates even further on the future of stadiums and technology: “Artificial intelligence will impact the stadium experience. With ‘dynamic ticketing’, you can sit next to people of a similar age, or similar interests, culture, or politics. Those at games, will be offered camera angles, videos, and audio that they cannot get at home. Soon fans will be able to radio in to what the coach is saying to his players. Going to a Real Madrid game will be the total experience.”
What will the new stadium look like? Real Madrid have already shared the winning design which includes a sleek, silver, and bright outer-skin which wraps around the entirety of the stadium.
If the stadium still only holds about 80,000 people – where do the remaining 170,000 fans in attendance go? Pavilions featuring high-definition jumbotrons and fan zones will be available, with the east facade being able to show live high-definition moments in the match.
“We want the Santiago Bernabeu to become the best stadium in the world. The new twenty-first century Bernabeu will continue to be a hallowed ground and it will remain in the heart of our city and be a model and icon in world football. A Bernabeu for all our fans and members to be proud of,” Florentino announced at the stadium design unveil in 2017. Florentino’s incessant drive to make Real Madrid the greatest club of not only the 20th century, but the 21st century is unmatched. This ambition means the club is planning not just for short-term goals, but long-term goals that will maintain the club among the world’s elite.