An old American friend of mine came for a visit last weekend after I had managed to get a pair of tickets for a football/soccer game of Real Madrid at its Stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu, which these days can be difficult and expensive. We had talked for a long time about this and the game vs Malaga Club de Fútbol was exciting…. to describe it in a word. Beyond the experience itself, it was good to check this off our to-do’s lists.
Prior to that, on Friday evening I went to pick him up at the airport. While waiting, thanks to a private driver with a sign with the name of a person, I noticed that another sporting event at the other side of the spectrum was taking place: the Madrid Horse Week, an annual equestrian competition and exhibition run at Madrid’s fair (IFEMA) the last week of November.
The following day we went to the Stadium. It had been a long time since I attended a football/soccer game in Madrid and soon I noticed that nowadays there are many foreigners attending it. Although the most part seemed to be weekend visitors, I wondered how many of them were indeed living in the city or country.
According to the Spanish National Institute, revenues generated by sports tourism are around €12 Billion in Spain in 2016, over 1% of our GDP (close to €1114B for that year). The Tourism Industry into which they are grouped generated 11.2% of the Spanish GDP. In relation to that, how are individuals benefiting from these kinds of events? Travel agents are the main business that comes into my mind when thinking about my audience. They can also seek agreements to resell, commission or package offerings around annual passes in the VIP areas of the stadiums, many of them ‘consumed’ by international executives residing in Spain, no matter their nationalities.
Another related area are museums and facilities: sports stadiums (particularly from the main football/soccer teams) also offer their premises (outside game days) to run corporate events. I have attended several of them in the Santiago Bernabeu and I am aware that the recently inaugurated Atletico de Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium also hosts them. And in the past, I was also invited to go to them at FC Barcelona’s stadium, the Camp Nou.
It is difficult to quantify the impact that Sporting events have when people decide to move to Spain, although nevertheless the previous examples can add up to the attraction of residing in this land. In quantitative terms, it can be foreseen that some major sporting events will be hosted in Spain every year beyond national leagues and international ones, some of them on an annual basis. Here is sample of the main ones for 2018: Spanish Formula 1 Gran Prix 2018 (Barcelona), Red Bull Moto GP 2018 (Jerez), Andalusia Valderrama Masters 2018 (Cadiz) (Golf), La Vuelta a España Road Bike Race 2018, Mutua Madrid Open Tennis Tournament, Water Polo European Championship (Barcelona), and IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (Valencia).
This weekend’s experience also made me think about football/soccer and other sports’ capacity for bringing together different people and nationalities, in most cases in a stratified manner replicating the structure of societies. Not many changes from the Circus ‘shows’ from the Romans – even there is some violence on the field in the case of the ‘king’ sport (football/soccer).
Another variable worth surveying is the impact that sporting events have on hotel reservations and restaurants, cinemas and theaters: it can be a good/bad time to go to a city or venue depending on when and where a competition is held. Fancy a new restaurant for which booking in advance is required? Try to make a reservation for it at the exact time when an important game of the city’s main team takes place at home.
In a future post, we will dig into which sports are watched and practiced the most in Spain, further analysising sports tourism in Spain as well. After my Art Museums in Spain post, in a separate one around non-artistic ones, sports museums will also be covered.
What sports do you like? Do you ever go to any live competitions? Have you ever traveled to another location for them? Do you attend them with any one?
Links of Interest
Atletico de Madrid, Wanda Metropolitano Stadium
Expansión, Turismo deportivo en España (Sports Tourism in Spain)
Instituto Nacional de Estadística, España en cifras 2017 (figures about Spain, 2017 edition)
Madrid Horse Week, Presentation
Spain Holiday, The Top 10 Sports Events in Spain in 2018
Spain Info, Sporting events
Real Madrid, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Photos: Real Madrid’s Stadium (Santiago Bernabeu), Atletico de Madrid’ Stadium (Wanda Metropolitano), Madrid Horse Week (at Madrid’s Fair, IFEMA).