Monday, October 18

Olympic dreams produce balls: history of the five towers on the grounds of the Real Madrid Sports City

Madrid has presented an Olympic bid four times. The first of them in 1972 and then in the long-distance race of the two thousand (2012, 2016 and 2020). A story of pumpkins that, however, have left an indelible mark on the city (not always profitable). A candidacy is not innocent: it puts a lot of money at stake and breaks legal dikes.

Almeida will present a new candidacy from Madrid for the JJ. OO. “if the favorable conditions were given”

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After a few years of fallow, our city seems ready to face the Olympic challenge again. Not having succeeded in the 2020 attempt has revealed relief after the arrival of the pandemic, but our current rectors have once again brought Olympism to the fore. Although the timing has been bad (generating a new rifirafe between the two government partners), Begoña Villacís (vice mayor) and José Luis Martínez Almeida (mayor) have agreed in declaring that Madrid could present a new candidacy. The first opportunity would be, according to the IOC calendar, the year 2036.

The great operations of the Madrid Olympics have been delayed in time and sometimes we forget the details of their journey. Today we will recall how one of the most important financial areas of the city, Cuatro Torres Business Area, it was built on a sports endowment ground and the promise of turning Madrid into an Olympic venue.

The land of the former Real Madrid Sports City had been acquired by the club in 1960 for 11 million pesetas, after they had been expropriated five years earlier for 93,000 pesetas from their owners for the construction of sports facilities. The justification was, literally, for being “such a representative entity of the Capital of Spain”, and for the “social purpose of the petitioner”.

The expropriation of the fourteen hectares of the Sports City, strategically located in an expansion pole of financial Madrid, was a sweet candy that no president of the white entity managed to remove the packaging. Already during the Franco regime it was tried, as then Ramón Mendoza in the times of Juan Barranco or Lorenzo Sanz with Álvarez del Manzano.

And in this came the Olympic dream. With its eyes fixed on the 2012 Olympics, Madrid began to look pretty to be eligible. In 1995 – the time of Lorenzo Sanz – the City Council and Real Madrid began to meet to see the possibility that those lands could serve as a future Olympic location (for some) and for economic use (for others).

The first bite to come to the Sports City arrived in 1996, 3 of the 14 hectares of the enclosure were bought by the Community of Madrid and the City Council for future endowment uses. Real Madrid was at that time carrying out a legal battle to try to build a large branch of The Corner of the Bernabéu. The expropriation cost 4,500 million pesetas, which the newspaper ABC came to call “the most expensive three hectares of sports use in history.” The situation is signed in the General Plan of 1997, in which the bulk of the Sports City continues to appear as Private Sports Dotacional and this other plot as Public Dotacional.

When in September 2000 José María Álvarez del Manzano presented to the press the facilities that the city would have to build for its Olympic bid, he mentioned the Sports City as a space to build the Olympic pavilion, despite the fact that by then there were already reports advising other locations.

This same year, the financial situation of Real Madrid is delicate (it is warned by UEFA, which informs the club that its participation in European competitions is in danger). It is then that the candidate Florentino Pérez appears with the promise of the long-awaited requalification of the land and the signing of Luis Figo. Indeed, in May 2001 the requalification agreement was signed, despite the fact that the General Urban Planning Plan explicitly stated that the use of the area was exhausted. The Olympic pavilion is the passport to force land uses and legality, make and break.

We already have on stage the idea of ​​four towers (although at first the press even spoke of three) surrounding the Olympic pavilion that our city urgently needed. We all know what came next: Cuatro Torres Business Area and no flag. As expected, the former owners of the land of the old Sports City denounced that the meaning of the project was contrary to the objectives with which they had been expropriated years ago, but this only opened a small front that did not endanger the operation.

The political goings-on to make legal change possible are counted in Florentino Pérez. Black and white portrait of an achiever, by the journalist Juan Carlos Escudier and would deserve a separate article. Only the PSOE would finally oppose the operation, while IU changed her mind (Inés Sabanés went from saying that it was outrageous and that the City Council was using the Olympic issue to approve a speculative operation to vote affirmatively).

In 2001, the mayor announced that he would convene an international ideas competition with the best architects in the world to redesign the bespoke area of ​​Olympic Madrid: there would be a pavilion for high competition, surrounded by green areas for public use and a plot that would be requalified for offices, that the operation was going to be paid for. 80 percent would become public land destined for green areas or sports facilities, as it was said then.

At the height of 2003, when the aspiration of the capital to the 2012 Olympic Games was officially presented to the detriment of Seville, the idea of ​​building the Olympic pavilion in the Sports City (the name of Madrid Arena was already being used) had been abandoned for technical reasons. The future of the land was about to be decided, said the mayor of Madrid, “respecting the qualification of endowment land and without increasing the buildability of the area.” The final result of the Olympic candidacy is known … Madrid was not the chosen city, nor will it be in the 2016 and 2020 candidacies.

It is then when the project for the Palacio de Congresos de la Castellana appears on the scene next to the four towers. In 2006, a modification of the General Plan was approved, with the opposition of the PSOE and IU, which gave free rein to a non-sporting project. The new convention center would be almost as big as the other two that the city of Madrid had together at the time, the IFEMA and the one in front of the Bernabéu.

Despite the fact that the Convention Center had a brand-new project, which drew a 120-meter-high circle to break with the linear and phallic tonic of neighboring skyscrapers, it will become a huge hole of 70,000 square meters, in which only they could see the foundations of a great pharaonic work that never was (though 270 million was spent on it).

The abandonment of the project led to a new modification of the urban regulation to change the possible uses of the plot in the time of Ana Botella. In 2015 it was rated as unique equipment, foreseeing their private exploitation. The idea that was then explained to the public was that there could be built a cultural center, a sports center, an educational center, a hospital, a church, a residence for the elderly … reserving a part for commercial or leisure use that would make its feasibility. exploitation. A neighboring plot of 33,647 square meters also maintained its use as a green area (the recently opened Parque Caleido).

This is the beginning of Caleido – the Fifth tower– a concession to the Villar Mir group inherited by the municipal government of Manuela Carmena (the award took place only two months before leaving office), which also did not oppose the operation. The educational use of the tower is served by the presence of the elite private university of the Instituto de Empresa and the PSOE denounced in 2017 that the 300 million euro fee to be paid over the 75-year concession was laughable. The Olympic career, which could start its long road again, has deep roots in the brick sector. The history of the old Sports City attest to this.

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