Real Madrid take out a $254MN loan – to pay for an underground greenhouse

Real Madrid have hailed a massive loan that will allow the club to automatically remove the pitch via an underground greenhouse as part of a revamp of their stadium costing almost $600 million.

The loan is for €225 million ($254 million) and comes as part of the €525 million ($594 million) renovation to Madrid’s iconic Santiago Bernabeu stadium that the 13-times Champions League winners announced four years ago.

The agreement has a term of 27 years and a fixed interest rate of 1.53 per cent, partly paying for a retractable roof and, in what is likely to be one of the first of its kind, a removable pitch.

“These conditions are the best ever obtained for long-term financing in the sport industry,” claimed the club, which has faced high-profile recent financial challenges.

“The funding will be used for the construction of a large underground greenhouse which was not foreseen in the initial work due to its complexity and which was technologically resolved at a later date.

“This greenhouse will allow the automatic removal of the pitch and its preservation in optimal conditions and in perfect shape to be used when a football match is to be held.

“In this way, the number of events that can be held without impacting the grass will be maximized.”

When the work is finished, the ground should see its capacity boosted to 85,000.

Amid player pay cuts during the pandemic, construction work began in 2020, with Los Blancos winning the resumed season’s Liga title that year at their Alfredo Di Stefano training ground.

Despite president Florentino Perez claiming his outfit are broke enough to need to be part of the failed European Super League, Madrid still reportedly tabled a $200 million-plus bid for France and Paris Saint-Germain prodigy Kylian Mbappe.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid side have now returned to the Bernabeu and currently lead the Spanish top flight by eight points.

Some of the stadium’s lower tiers are still visibly under renovation, and other remodeling work is yet to be finished.

On Twitter, fans gave the announcement a mixed reaction. “Xavi would do it for free, but whatever,” said one, referencing the new head coach at arch-rivals Barcelona, who are trying to revamp their own Camp Nou stadium.

“How about you finance [the] Mbappe announcement?” was one impatient suggestion.

Others questioned whether the design will work or not.

“You will always feel the gaps and lines in the field while playing on the pitch, it seems to me,” said one of the pitch innovation.

“It will [work]. Spurs’ new stadium uses the same technology,” replied another.

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