Barceloneta residents voice fears over America's Cup rents and congestion

Local organizations ask that the negative impact of sailing competition on day-to-day life be "minimal"

A sticker against the America's Cup, in Barceloneta
A sticker against the America's Cup, in Barceloneta / Blanca Blay

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

April 22, 2024 01:59 PM

April 25, 2024 11:22 PM

The countdown to the America's Cup is on. There are just four months to go until the world's oldest international competition's opening ceremony in Barcelona on August 22.  

The six teams for the sailing competition known as the Formula One of the seas have already set up their bases in the Catalan capital for training and testing, with millions of sports fans set to arrive for the competition itself, which runs until October 20. 

Residents in the old Barcelona seafront neighborhood of Barceloneta are worried about the negative impact the influx of people could have, in what is already an area very popular with tourists. 

Some locals believe that the competition should be the perfect opportunity for investment to be made in the neighborhood and ask that the negative impact on their day-to-day life be "minimal." 

Others that the Catalan News Agency (ACN) spoke to say the event will only benefit private interests, rather than the neighborhood as a whole, voicing particular concerns about rent prices being pushed up even more. 

Event organizers say that Barceloneta will have "a good experience" and will reap the benefits from the competition with improvements to infrastructure and neighborhood facilities.  

2.5 million visitors 

Albert Vilumara, corporate director of America's Cup Event Barcelona, explains to ACN that on average each team involves around 100 or 150 people. 

Right now, there are already around 600 people working in the various teams, with the full complement of staff expected to arrive by the end of spring. 

That will mean a total of around 1,000 people, plus their families. 

During the event, around 2.5 million people – according to a study commissioned by Pompeu Fabra University – are expected to visit Barcelona. 

"September and October are busy months in Barcelona and we understand that many people will take the opportunity to experience the America's Cup," Vilumara says. 

Effect on housing, traffic and fishing 

Manel Martínez, spokesperson for the Barceloneta Residents Association, asks that the negative impact on the neighborhood be "minimal." 

Instead, he views it as "an opportunity for them to let us show the friendly side of the neighborhood." He hopes that there will also be investment for the neighborhood, for example, training courses for fishers, or improvements to spaces for cultural activities. 

Martínez is worried about the effects on traffic in this densely populated area with narrow streets. 

Barceloneta is "a bottleneck," he says, and one that cannot cope with roads in and out of the neighborhood being closed for the event." 

Vilumara is keen to point out that the organization is encouraging people not to come by car: "Everyone in Barcelona" should be able "to get to the event by public transport, and that's what we're calling for."  

"The plan is not to close roads unless it is absolutely necessary," he said. 

Esther Jorquera, a resident and member of the 'No to the America's Cup' platform, rejects the competition outright, as she believes it will be detrimental to the neighborhood, in terms of mobility, the environment and housing. 

"It's the icing on the cake," says Jorquera, who says the event will only bring private profit and tourism.

She is worried about the environmental impact on the sea and complains that the competition will prevent fishers from working. 


Jorquera says the residents of this traditional maritime neighborhood are already suffering from the process of gentrification. 

They're kicking us out, that's the reality of it," she says. 

Regarding the possibility of illegal tourist flats, Barcelona City Council says that it will maintain "inspections, as always at a high level of intensity, both before, during and after the competition, to detect any kind of illegal activity legal and act accordingly." 

Tine Mathiassen, general manager and founder of Casamona estate agents, explains that they have received many requests to find accommodation for the America's Cup, and have already rented to around 30 or 40 families. 

"Something with sea views," is the most common request, she says. "The prices have gone up and the owners are charging a lot more, sometimes double, because they also want their income."


Owners are raising prices and, in some cases, charging more than double, Methiassen confirms, citing the case of a building in Barcelona with thirty apartments that were normally rented for €2,500 or €3,000 a month, with the owner now asking for €7,000

"People who want to come to the America's Cup have a lot of money. It doesn't matter where they come from – it's like Formula One," she says. 

According to Mathiassen, most of the flats in Barceloneta are not owned by large investors with many properties. 

Among the rentals on offer there are some with very high prices, for example, up to €24,000 per month for an apartment in Port Vell available for monthly rentals "between 32 days and four months from July to October." 

"It's a different market," Mathiassen says.