The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, commonly known as the Bernabéu, is one of the most famous sporting arenas in the world, having hosted Real Madrid's home games since 1947. But the Spanish soccer titans could be playing under a different banner if Microsoft gets its way — the software giant has confirmed that it's in talks with Real Madrid to acquire naming rights to the 85,454-seat stadium.
"We're only talking about the possibility."
"We have an excellent relationship with Real Madrid and in fact we recently signed an agreement with its foundation," said Microsoft España president María Garaña in comments to Spanish TV reported by ESPN. "They've raised, as have other companies, renaming the stadium and we're only talking about this possibility." El Confidencial last month reported that Bill Gates was negotiating the deal, with club president Florentino Perez said to be unwilling to make a decision until the middle of next year.
Although the talks are preliminary, it's easy to see how such a deal would be mutually beneficial. Microsoft would gain huge brand recognition from the closer association with Real Madrid and its high-profile stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Real, meanwhile, is heavily in debt despite taking in higher revenues than any other soccer club, and would be able to charge a premium for such a lucrative sponsorship opportunity.