Yankees Join Cowboys Giving Stadium Know-How to Italy’s Roma

AS Roma, the Italian soccer team owned by hedge-fund manager James Pallotta, is getting assistance on its stadium development plan from a company owned by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys.

Roma, second in Italy’s top-tier Serie A, last year hired Legends to do market research and a feasibility study on premium products at a proposed new stadium, said Todd Fleming, vice president of global sales at New York-based Legends, whose owners also include the Checketts Partners Investment Fund.

“Roma is trying to modernize its business practices,” Fleming said in a telephone interview from Rome, where today the team unveiled plans for a new, privately-financed Stadio della Roma. Roma and Lazio currently share Stadio Olimpico, which has a capacity of about 70,000. The new stadium, scheduled to open for the 2016-17 season, will have 52,500 seats. The stadium plan will be assessed by Italian authorities for approval, Roma said in a news release.

Also today, Starwood Capital Group said in a news release that it had acquired an undisclosed minority stake in the team, giving it the ability to become a real estate capital partner in the stadium project. Starwood said it has $33 billion of assets under management.

Roma is the second European soccer team to hire Legends, which also works with Manchester City of the English Premier League. City and Major League Baseball’s Yankees jointly own and operate New York City Football Club, a Major League Soccer expansion team.

Legends conducted focus groups and surveyed more than 65,000 fans in Rome as part of its work to help the team structure its business practices, Fleming said.

Premium Seating

Most of the questions, Fleming said, centered on products such as luxury suites and premium seating. The results showed that Italian fans, unlike U.S. sports fans, have little use for a luxury suite with a capacity of 20 or more. The preference was for a premium box with seating for 12, Fleming said.

“The overwhelming response is receptive to it,” Fleming said, noting that Legends didn’t broach pricing.

The company will also lead Roma’s effort to sell tickets and premium products. Roma had $124.4 million in revenue in 2012-13, according to Deloitte LP.

The stadium project includes a variety of venues for music and entertainment, including a 500-person stage in a Roma-themed restaurant, a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater and a 13,000-seat amphitheater with the stadium, the club said.

“For a stadium development to be truly successful today, it must become a part of the everyday fabric of people’s lives,” Pallotta said in a statement.

In 2009, the Yankees opened a $1.5 billion stadium and the Cowboys began playing in a new $1.2 billion facility.

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