La Liga’s Real Sociedad will open its newly renovated, 40,000-capacity stadium – under the new Reale Arena moniker – on Saturday, while the club is close to striking a new shirt sponsorship deal.
The stadium name, unveiled yesterday (Thursday) evening, will take the name of its title sponsor – Italian-owned insurance company Reale Seguros – for the next six seasons, at a total cost reported locally of €10m.
The Basque club joins Atlético Madrid, Celta Vigo and Villareal as LaLiga sides to have sold stadium naming rights.
Marketing director Begoña Larzabal told SportBusiness: “We have worked with Reale since 2012 and discussed this project for three years before signing. We are also very close to announcing a shirt sponsor, watch this space, an announcement is imminent.”
An announcement will nonetheless see Real Sociedad the last LaLiga club to confirm a shirt deal for the 2019-20 season. Its last agreement, with Chinese fintech firm Qbao, came to an abrupt end – with bills unpaid – in early 2018, when the sponsor was found to be involved in fraudulent pyramid schemes.
After that, a non-binding consultation in December 2018 saw 5,715 club members (86 per cent of the vote) decide against accepting a new shirt sponsor from the betting sector, despite reports of an offer in excess of €2m.
“We had four or five offers from betting companies, but we feel it is not the way to educate the young, we have a responsibility and we decided not to promote gambling as something that is normal,” said Larzabal.
La Real goes into its 110th year with a record 33,000 season ticket holders – 12,000 more than ten years ago – and 11,000 new seats with which to house them. Other upgrades from last season at the former Anoeta Stadium include new hospitality and fan engagement areas, and gone is the infamous running track around the pitch to leave fans, literally, closer to the action.