The consultancy will open its new headquarters in Paseo de la Castellana and aims to diversify beyond sports. Chus Bueno, who has been at the forefront of the Iberian market since this month, assures that “he does not have many restrictions” to make strategic investments.
By Alvaro Carter
The Spanish sports industry has come out of the pandemic affected, but strengthened. Not only have fans returned to the center of the conversation, but the interest of giants in the sector that perceive great opportunities in a phase of need for funds and, above all, of strategic partners that help push new lines of business where sports properties do not have that knowledge. That role is what Legends wants to play, which already has a team of 80 people in its subsidiary for Spain and Portugal and next month it will be installed in new offices next to the Santiago Bernabéu.
“Iberia is one of the markets where we see more growth opportunities. The time is right for further investment,” Mike Tomon , co-president and COO of Legends, tells 2Playbook. To this end, they have carried out a strong offensive, culminating in the signing of Chus Bueno as general director to pilot the business in the Iberian Peninsula, a potential center for large investments if the 2030 World Cup is awarded.
“A great bet has been made with a strong investment, but Legends already had a structure in Spain, which is now expanding,” Bueno tells this medium. “The idea is to have our own team because of the market volume and opportunities, but with the support of the parent company to be able to develop the 360 project idea that we want to work on with our partners,” he adds.
The new offices will be located on Paseo de la Castellana, close to the home of its main partner in Spain, Real Madrid. The offensive comes after Sixth Street took over the majority shareholding in the consultancy created by the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees. Their entry was key to being able to close what is their biggest deal in Spain so far, for which they will pay up to 360 million euros to keep 30% of the profit generated by the company created to commercially exploit the Bernabéu during the next twenty years.
“Entering a market hand in hand with Real Madrid is the best possible letter of introduction because you don’t have to do a go to market ; the marketing is already done, but Legends already had a huge reputation that spoke for itself of the company”, affirms Bueno. The director, incorporated this summer from the NBA, assures that “there are more interested clubs”, but for now no proposal has gone beyond preliminary conversations.
The consultant also advises Sevilla FC to project a new Sánchez Pizjuán open 365 days a year. FC Barcelona and Atleti also had their services to carry out a study on Espai Barça and Civitas Metropolitano, respectively. In addition, Legends also has the operation of the Real Madrid retail business, a project independent of the Bernabéu and for which its structure in Spain has already been reinforced to pilot it.
“There are different projects, but above all we are looking for partnership agreements , not a one off ”, Bueno points out. “We want to be a strategic partner to help properties accelerate their business and organically improve not only their revenue, but other key issues in today’s industry like their brand exposure.”
The manager does not rule out that there are more investments like the one made in the white club. “We are not going to have many restrictions to invest, but it will only be done when it makes strategic sense and adds value.” Regarding billing forecasts, he maintains that “we are still making the numbers for next year.”
In what coincides with Tomon is in the opportunity detected in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. “Context always helps. That there are stadiums that have to undertake reforms as part of a World Cup bid is important. Also that LaLiga obliges to allocate a part of the CVC funds to the facilities ”.
And he points out: “The fact that funds like CVC or Sixth Street enter the business is the best news for Spanish sport, because that means that they perceive a solid, mature industry with potential, but the right investment must be made, because when invest so much money there is no more room for maneuver to go back into debt. That is why choosing the partner , as in this case Legends, that helps develop the business, is essential”.
Finally, the consultant sees fewer opportunities outside of football in Spanish sport. It does appreciate them in other sectors within large facilities. “We think of amusement parks, aquariums, museums… All those large venues that ultimately share common characteristics with football, such as the sale of merchandising , hospitality , ticket sales and the management of a venue”. “We have a global expertise that we want to bring to Spain and that is not limited to sport, although for now the center of attention is the Bernabéu”.
WHO IS LEGENDS
The company defines itself as “a premium experience company specializing in providing holistic solutions for sports and entertainment organizations and venues.” Among its business lines, six verticals stand out: sales, retail (both e-commerce and stores), technological solutions for sports venues, hospitality, consulting and strategic planning with clubs.
It was created in 2008 by the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, with the idea of managing the sponsorship and hospitality sales of both franchises. In 2021, Sixth Street took over the majority shareholding in an operation that valued 100% of the capital at 1,350 million dollars (1,281 million euros), which was a boost at the worst moment for the company in the midst of the health crisis of the Covid-19 that led to the closure of the stadiums and the brake on investments in new sports venues.
Until the signing of his agreement with Madrid, the jewel in the crown in the world of football was the Tottenham Hostpur stadium. The home of the Spurs since 2019 has become a venue capable of generating experiences for fans throughout the year beyond football games. It also has agreements at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester City and Old Trafford with United, and other venues in the United States for teams such as the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, the University of Notre Dame and other organizations such as Wimbledon and the UFC.