Published On: Fri, Mar 28th, 2014

Roman Holiday : Now Barry Sternlicht Is Building A New Football Stadium In Rome For Top Team A.S. Roma

Roman Holiday : Now Barry Sternlicht Is Building A New Football Stadium In Rome For Top Team AS Roma

Opening of the W Hotel in NYC

Barry Sternlicht / Getty

Barry Sternlicht loves football – the European kind that is, which Americans call soccer – and he loves Italy. He must do as he also loves making money, and the private equity firm Starwood Capital Group, of which he is the Chairman and CEO, has just announced a huge deal to build a new football stadium there in partnership with Roman football club “AS Roma SPV”. Or, more accurately the deal is with “AS Roma SPV LLC, ” which is the top level partnership that is the club’s majority shareholder.

The football club’s full name is Associazione Sportiva Roma, but everyone in Italy simply calls it Roma, a first division team, or Serie A as they call it, continuously for the last 62 years.

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At the moment Roma shares a stadium, the Stadio Olimpico, with its city rivals Lazio. Then in 2009 the club unveiled plans to build its own new stadium, seating 55, 000 fans, in Rome’s western suburbs. In September 2011, it was announced that Roma had come to planning terms with the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, to have the new stadium completed by 2016.

Now with the partnership with Starwood Capital the stadium project has the financial clout to finally come to life, on the site of the old race track, albeit a little behind schedule.

Financial terms of the new partnership were not disclosed, but include three components. First, acquisition of a minority stake in the club itself; then second, the ability to become a real estate development partner in the new stadium and finally, third, the ability to become a real estate development partner in a major planned mixed use real estate complex in the adjacent Tor di Valle neighbourhood which Roma has been planning as an integral element of the new stadium complex.

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Barry Sternlicht explained his excitement with the announcement, saying, “Rome is one of the most important and exciting cities in the world. This transaction presents an opportunity to partner with AS Roma and its major stakeholders to develop one of the most thrilling real estate projects in Europe today, ”

Sternlicht continued, “The site is superb but has been abandoned for some time as the old racetrack. It seems appropriate – and, frankly, wonderful – that as Italy comes out of its prolonged slowdown, we can invest our capital and be part of this redevelopment: a gleaming, new project that will be among the world’s finest stadiums, and which we hope will be a symbol of the bright future of this incredible city, its citizens and its AS Roma fans.”

Finally he concluded, “We look forward to enhancing our partnership with AS Roma through follow-on transactions in the coming years and participating in the resurgence of the Italian economy.”

The partnership represents a strategic investment therefore by Sternlicht in the Italian real estate market, one that in certain parts is now beginning to stabilize and recover. The new Tor di Valle project will have at least 2, 500, 000 square feet authorized as part of its master development plan. It will house the new Roma stadium plus a substantial adjacent retail and entertainment district.

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The site is strategically located in the southwest of Rome where it has excellent access and visibility. It is immediately adjacent to and easily accessible via the A90 Autoroute midway between the Fiumicino International Airport, aka Leonardo Da Vinci airport, and Rome’s city center, and also has direct access to Rome’s railway system. The project likely will be the largest real estate development in Rome in the coming years.

For Sternlicht therefore this is a big bet he is making; on Europe, on the Euro, on Italy, on Italian politics, on real estate – and on football as well.

The President of the football club, James Pallotta, said “We are excited to have such an experienced and strategic real estate investors like Starwood Capital Group onboard, ” adding, “Starwood Capital Group will add substantial value to our stadium development project, and we welcome their long-term commitment, which will further help establish AS Roma as one of the leading football clubs worldwide.”

James Pallotta is part of an American investment group that acquired control of the club in 2011. Pallotta is Managing Director of Tudor Investment Corporation which invested in the control partnership.

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About Starwood Capital Group

Starwood Capital Group is a private, U.S. based investment firm with a core focus on global real estate. Starwood Capital Group currently has US$33 billion of assets under management.

Starwood maintains offices in Greenwich, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, and affiliated offices in London, Luxembourg, Paris, Mumbai and Sao Paulo.

The group invests in nearly every class of real estate on a global basis, including office, retail, residential, senior housing, golf, hotels, resorts and industrial assets. Starwood Capital Group and its affiliates have successfully executed an investment strategy that includes building enterprises around core real estate portfolios in both the private and public markets.

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