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FC Porto strikes investment deal for Estádio do Dragão

Featured image credit: FC Porto

Portuguese Primeira Liga football club FC Porto has announced a partnership with Spanish investment company Ithaka Infra III which is designed to aid redevelopment work and enhance the operation of its Estádio do Dragão.

Porto in February said it had agreed an investment partnership with a “reputable international company”, with its identity now being disclosed in a statement to the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM). Porto said the contract with Madrid-headquartered Ithaka has been signed with a view to “increasing the use and economic profitability” of Estádio do Dragão.

Ithaka will have the right, during the next 25 years, to hold 30% of the economic rights of a new company, to be incorporated into Grupo FC Porto, which will dedicate itself to increasing the commercial potential of the Dragão, specifically focusing on corporate hospitality, sponsorship, ticketing, naming rights for the stadium, the Museu do Futebol Clube do Porto, visits to the Estádio do Dragão, the organisation of non-sporting events and concerts, as well as other income, present or future, related to the facility.

Ithaka will invest €65m (£55.6m/$69.3m) in FC Porto, of which around €30m will be fully reinvested in Estádio do Dragão during the first years of the partnership, with the remainder intended to increase the club’s competitiveness. After the 25-year period of the partnership has elapsed, FC Porto will recover full control of the economic rights of Estádio do Dragão.

The club said: “It is important to highlight that FC Porto maintains control and management over the operations of Estádio do Dragão, as well as full ownership of it throughout the aforementioned 25 years of the partnership.

“FC Porto’s new strategic partner brings extensive experience investing in large international infrastructures and the parties have the operational support of Legends, the world’s leading sports stadium operator that has a long history of success in managing sports stadiums in Europe and the United States.

“The strategic alliance is expected to significantly increase the revenues of Estádio do Dragão, and the unique experience of Ithaka, (financial and strategic advisor) Key Capital Partners and Legends in sports venues, together with the investments that will be made to improve Estádio do Dragão, will enable FC Porto to offer its fans and visitors new experiences.”

The club said the strategic partnership is expected to begin at the start of the 2024-25 season, subject to compliance with standard market conditions, namely, the completion, by Ithaka, of long-term financing relating to its investment, as well as the constitution of the new company of Grupo FC Porto in which Ithaka will invest.

Yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement came just nine days before Porto is due to hold presidential elections. Jorge Nuno de Lima Pinto da Costa, who has controlled Porto since 1982, is being challenged for the presidency for the four-year period spanning 2024 to 2028 by the team’s former coach, André Villas-Boas.

Porto owns and operates the 50,000-capacity Estádio do Dragão. In November, global premium experiences company Legends entered into a 15-year strategic partnership with Porto focused on transforming the fan experience. 

As part of the partnership, Legends is overseeing global partnerships for the club as well as naming rights and sponsorship assets for Estádio do Dragão. Porto and Legends are evaluating new opportunities to deliver a “premier matchday experience” for fans.

Legends will utilise its hospitality expertise to reimagine the culinary and beverage experience at the stadium, namely in Porto Partner’s Club VIP boxes and seats.