beIN SPORTS USA
FC Barcelona members have voted in favor of the club opening a youth academy in the United States.
Thanks to a vote that saw 283 votes in favor, and just 25 against, the club will break ground on a nearly five acre (20,000 square meter) training facility in Long Island, NY. The club anticipates "some 2,000 boys and girls playing" at the new complex.
The greater New York City metropolitan area has been of interest for some time to Barcelona, with the club having opened offices in Manhattan in 2016.
"The land is situated more precisely in King’s Park, between the counties of Suffolk and Nassau on Long Island where there is a population of around 184,000 children under the age of 14 and a secondary market of more than 2.5 million children in Tri-State Area," read the club's official announcement.
Despite potentially harsh winters in the New York area, Barcelona intends to make the facility usable year-round.
"In this space some eight football pitches with artificial turf are planned with two pitches with natural turf, as well as all the facilities needed for the playing of sport, all of the highest quality. Given the climate of the area, also planned is that some of the pitches can be covered during the winter so that the Academy can carry out its work all year round. Also planned is the construction of offices, shops, parking lots and other auxiliary buildings."
Barcelona's new American home with be a joint-venture with Prospect Sports Partner LLC, "a private equity firm specializing in investment in growth capital" (via Bloomberg), leaving the club "exempt from any type of economic commitment" in the academy's construction:
"The length of this joint business venture will be 10 years with the option of another 10. The terms of the agreement envisage an income for the Club of 15% of the income generated in the form of royalties for the use of the brand as well as 50% of the profits generated overall by the project that is developed."
Barcelona have grand ambitions for the academy in both sporting and branding contexts, with hopes of establishing a foothold in the prized New York market. They will be joined by fellow European giants Bayern Munich, who also have offices in the city, Chelsea, who are partners with youth program FC Harlem, and two Major League Soccer franchises, the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC.
"Despite the economic benefits foreseen for the project, the main objective is sporting and the brand. Sporting, because an elite football academy is the aim to compete at the highest level in the country as well as being a point of reference for young North American players. The brand, because this project will serve as a tool for growth in an area of strategic importance for the Club: the USA, and in particular the New York area which has a great influence locally and around the globe."