Community engagement CA Osasuna secret sauce



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Luis Arregui Jurado at Coliseum Europe Image: Coliseum GSVA

Luis Arregui Jurado is a firm believer in the fact that community engagement is vital for a venue and a sports team to earn an exalted position in the sporting ecosystem as a whole. He is in charge of International Business Development at the LaLiga club CA Osasuna of Spain and is all buoyed up over the fact that the club after several relegations have sprung back to the top league – LaLiga.

Jurado is perfect in the art of fan engagement and formulates concrete business strategies. He also knows the art of interaction and has got the gift of the gab when it comes to engaging with the community-fans. He also boasts previous stint with the top-flight Spanish professional football club Real Madrid CF.

Luis Arregui Jurado, Head of International Business Development, C.A. Osasuna, Spain, shares with ‘Coliseum’ how CA Osasuna’s ride back to the top has been a roller-coaster one. He also tells how with a shoestring budget the club went ahead with refurbishing its home ground – the El Sadar Stadium in Pomplana, Spain – and today is the only club in LaLiga to have introduced the facial recognition technology.
 

CA Osasuna

Club Atlético Osasuna, or simply Osasuna, is a Spanish professional football club in Pamplona, Navarre. Founded on October 24th, 1920, the club currently plays in LaLiga, holding home games at the 23,576-capacity El Sadar Stadium. The team’s regular home kit is a red shirt with navy blue shorts.
 

El Sadar Stadium

The El Sadar Stadium is a football stadium in Pamplona, Navarre, Spain. The stadium holds 23,576 people. It was built in 1967 and is the home of the top-flight club CA Osasuna. It is currently used mostly for football matches.
 

LaLiga

The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known simply as Primera División in Spain, and as La Liga in English-speaking countries and officially as LaLiga Santander for sponsorship reasons, stylized as LaLiga, is the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football league system.
 

Never-say-die Spirit

Luis Arregui Jurado tells with a sense of pride that CA Osasuna players have that never-say-die spirit in them and are fighters to the core – “We represent the unique historical community North of Spain called Navarre and we have been representing this community for more than 100 years. We enjoy a unique relationship with our fans as well as the community.”
 

Members-owned Club

CA Osasuna is one of four professional Spanish clubs to be owned by its members. The other three are Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.
 

One Big Family

Jurado informed that the CA Osasuna is like “one big family as we enjoy socio ownership and the team enjoys a beautiful relationship with the members. This relationship gets best demonstrated in the fact that the El Sadar Stadium in the last LaLiga season boasted the highest attendance among LaLiga clubs and this has been possible due to our engagement with the community and our supporters.”
 

Setbacks Galore

He informed that in 2014, CA Osasuna got relegated to the Segunda División and was doing “pretty bad on the pitch and also the club management cut a sorry figure. In 2015, things went from bad to worse and the club got further relegated to the Segunda División B – the third division of LaLiga and the club was almost written off.”
 

Back from the Brink

In 2016, CA Osasuna was back from the brink and got its place back in LaLiga. However, the club’s luck seesaw continued and again it got relegated back to the Second Division. But since 2019, the club has been able to retain its position at the top – LaLiga.
 

Stadium Spruce-up

CA Osasuna decided to go ahead with redeveloping its home ground despite a limited budget as “most of the LaLiga clubs were on the fast path to growth and our competitors boasted the most spiffy venues and best-of-breed sponsors with cash registers jingling. We decided if we have to enjoy an edge over our competitors, we have to grow organically.”

The club decided that to win back the trust and confidence of its stakeholders and its socios (the members owning the club), it has to go ahead with revamping the El Sadar Stadium even if there was “budgetary constraints”.

The club carried out an in-depth study and reached the conclusion that the facility “left a lot to be desired – less capacity, lack of safety measures and no premium facilities on offer for fans. We decided to go ahead with the total transformation of the stadium and remodeling was the only way we could rake in the moolah. As we had a very limited budget, we decided to engage the stakeholders as well as the community and made the entire exercise transparent which worked to our favor.”

The rejig work involved refurbishing the stands, install comfy seats and creating more spaces within the arena thus enabling a capacity rise. More hospitality spaces were created and the corporate boxes doubled and of course, the El Sadar Stadium was armed with technical bells and whistles. The safety and security quotients of fans were given the highest priority and the ingress and egress points were made state-of-the-art.
 

Challenges

Jurado informed that the greatest challenge was to retain the pristine sheen of the venue despite all the makeover work done.

He explained, “Bringing almost a 360 degree change to the El Sadar Stadium with only a budget of 23 million was a huge challenge in itself.”
 

Next Steps

The club is working on strengthening the overall connectivity of the venue and right now is working on 5G connection and on developing a sturdy Wi-Fi system to offer an “enhanced and enchanting experience to our fans”.
 

Facial Recognition Feat

A proud Jurado informed that from being a “least-desired facility” the El Sadar Stadium today enjoys being the only stadium in LaLiga “which boasts facial recognition access turnstiles in six of the venue’s gates and we have been working on this for the last one year. The benefits are myriad – it prevents non-members from accessing the stadium and offers a better access experience to its members, faster, more comfortable and safer. It has boosted the entire security fabric of the arena and is very much fan-friendly. CA Osasuna is now working towards introducing facial recognition technology for its season ticket members.”
 

Sum-up

Luis Arregui Jurado summed up by stating that the club could retain its position at the top as well as redevelop its stadium even with purse strings tightened as “CA Osasuna enjoys an insightful relationship with the fans and the community and the club also enjoys unflinching loyalty of its fans and the community on which its arena sits. After all, the world of sport is filled with unique opportunities to engage and impact a community like no other medium in the world, especially during trying times.”

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