The ambitious owner of the business group that controls the Saski Baskonia and Deportivo Alavés clubs, Josean Querejeta, no longer aspires only to launch a new private university called Euneiz in Vitoria, a process not without academic controversy. Taking advantage of the presentation of projects to raise European funds, in recent months and under the baton of the former provincial deputy of Finance for the PNV, José Luis Cimiano, now Strategy advisor to the deputy general of Álava, Ramiro González, the plan has been extended to what has come to be called ‘Araba Sport Capital’. Valued at 64 million euros -of which less than 50% would come from private developers-, Querejeta seeks to expand the Ibaia sports complex, the surroundings of the Fernando Buesa Arena -a public facility renovated less than a decade ago- and reform the city BAKH sports center, all of them exclusively used by the private sports entity. Likewise, he also wants to create an “American school” and a residence or ‘talent house’, in which he could grant scholarships to young foreign athletes before signing them.
Both favorable and unfavorable reports and competition to the public University: lights and shadows of the new project promoted by Querejeta
According to the reports of the ‘Araba Sport Capital’ plan, which have been sent to the Basque Parliament and in which Cimiano is listed as “responsible”, the objective is “to make Vitoria-Araba a reference point for educational-sports training and concentration of athletes and clubs “and that” sport becomes an economic and differentiating engine for the city and province. ” The investment of 64 million euros would translate into 99 jobs linked to the University, 722 students in 2026 (the maximum mentioned is 2,000) and 17 million in student spending. In addition, it alludes to another 279 jobs and 12 million linked to the “health and innovation” leg of the project, basically an attempt to make companies “leaders” in their sector “such as Baskonia-Alavés” in the world of basketball. and football or BAKH in the field of sports leisure promote a “service” for the promotion of new business projects that would be offered “well-equipped premises”, “advice”, “a project manager”, “older brother ” [sic], “free training” and “support in the search for financing”.
It would be a foundation “whose corporate purpose is to promote industrial development related to innovation and new technologies, with special emphasis on health, sports and digital content” that would lead ‘Araba Sport Capital’. It is said that she would not have a “profit motive” and that she will collaborate with Euses and Enti, two Catalan university centers that are the mirror of Euneiz, with Egibide Vitoria -a Vocational Training center that arose from the merger of Jesús Obrero and Diocesanas -, with “centers and professionals of recognized prestige”, with the Provincial Council and with the Baskonia-Alavés group.
And the plan has six legs. The first is Euneiz with a planned investment of 12.5 million. The report already starts from the erroneous premise that it will start “provisionally” in the academic year 2021/2022. This University has not yet received approval for its creation by the Basque Parliament, although it is not expected to have problems because the Basque Government has given it the green light and the PNV and PSE-EE have a majority in the Chamber, in addition to other possible supports that can be earned. It is alluded to that in the year 2024/2025 it will already be in a “definitive plot”, of which no locations are mentioned. It is defined as a campus of “7,500 square meters” for “a total of 2,000 students”. It would focus on physiotherapy, sports, music and video games and, in general, everything related to “health and sports”. The objective is that “a large part” of the students come “from Mexico”, “where they have another sports university and that they would link to the one that is implanted in Vitoria”. Neither which center is that nor what connection it would have is not mentioned. And another surprising statement is added: “It is noteworthy that 50% of the current University students are from abroad, mainly France.” What “current university” do you mean? There are no concretions.
The second leg is the residence of athletes and students, which they call ‘talent house’ and which would cost 15.5 million euros. It would have “7,000 square meters” for 250-300 occupants, although later “more than 500 of 26 nationalities” are mentioned in the activities of the summer camps. Of them “70-80” would be “elite” athletes who would arrive on scholarships, “both football and basketball.” That the document is promoted by the Baskonia-Alavés group is evident when it says that it would use the residence paid with European funds to attend to “specific needs” of its athletes or technicians when they do not have accommodation.
2.5 million euros would be allocated to a “health and research center in sports, regenerative and rehabilitation medicine” of 500 square meters in the BAKH sports city, attached to the pavilion where Baskonia plays. It will be a “place of reference” for the Euneiz students and for the athletes of the clubs, with access to the areas of “swimming pools, wellness, gyms, etc.”. And it would cost 12.5 million that “older brother” service and advice for companies, which has come to be called HEGAN, which is the same name that the Basque aerospace cluster already has. The “American school” would cost 2 million euros, and is considered “essential” for the “more than 200 boys and girls” who come from “different countries in the world.” “Australia, China and the Middle East” are cited.
The last of the six legs is valued at 19 million euros, 30% of the total budget, and is summarized in the reform of the current facilities of the Querejeta group. “Four 7 football pitches” or “two 11 football pitches” are being planned in the area of the university and the residence hall, which would cost 1.8 million euros and would make Vitoria “an international academy center of the first European level” . With the “same criteria” four basketball courts are proposed for 2.4 million under the old dome of the Fernando Buesa Arena, now located in the parking lot and without a defined use. A budget of 5.5 million euros is proposed to expand the BAKH -which competes with municipal sports venues to attract users and which also need reforms- in the belief of the “high flow” of students and “sports tourists”. Finally, the reform of the Ibaia complex is proposed, in which the Deportivo Alavés teams train. It is explained that “70,000 square meters” have been acquired to build “eight fields” with their facilities. Is it for the home team to benefit? No, because thanks to those 9.3 million, “numerous sports teams from abroad will come in order to make their preseason preparations or ‘stages’ of the season, as well as to organize international tournaments.”
The report includes a budget breakdown of the plan between 2021 and 2026. Already this year 0.4 million will be spent and, as of 2022, 12.72 million per year in five years. Of the total of 64 million, the pure private financing is 30.8, since it is hoped to achieve 32.24 of the Next Generation EU program, which here has been translated as Euskadi Next, and the Provincial Council and City Council would put 0.48 million for head.
It so happens that this Wednesday the Baskonia-Alavés group has publicly presented the project. Now he has dubbed it ‘Innovaraba’. It has been emphasized that it will create “750 direct and indirect jobs” and that “it contemplates a minimum total private investment of 64 million euros”, something that does not match the official report sent to the Basque Parliament. It is alluded that Euneiz will start in “2022/2023”. The presentation was accompanied by a union protest considering the University project as “elitist.”