In La Barceloneta, everything arrives by sea

It would be very difficult to find a scenario as maritime as ours to celebrate the most important nautical event at international level: the America's Cup.

Barceloneta was born from the sea. There is no certainty that the ocean swallowed Atlantis, but if it did, it wanted to compensate by returning from its depths the land where Barceloneta was born back in the eighteenth century.

This neighbourhood has spent generations smelling of saltpeter and tar and living largely from the sea. Fishermen, dockers, builders and shipyard workers, restaurateurs and traders, – and why not also smugglers… most of the neighbours directly or indirectly depended on the sea. For work and also for fun and sport. This was and is La Barceloneta, the neighbourhood that has always been immersed in the sea while the rest of the city turned its back on it.

Today those children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who depended so much on the sea, will become hosts of an event like the America’s Cup. An event that, of course, also comes from the sea.

But these neighbors just want to know something: what will the sea bring them this time? What does the America's Cup bring them concretely and tangibly?

Barcelona knows how to ensure that major events have a positive impact on the city and its neighbourhoods. We can say that it is the “Barcelona model”, which we established with the Olympic Games: the big events do not pass through the city and that’s it, as if they were taking advantage of it; the big events help us to make the city and improve the neighbourhoods.

We are working on the specific aspects that after the event will remain for the city and for Barceloneta, such as infrastructure improvements (e.g. real 5G coverage on the coast), the commitment to the gastronomic offer of Barceloneta or the reinforcement in the areas of employment related to the nautical sector, to give some specific examples.

How can we take advantage of the fact that the arrival of this highly watched competition (3rd most watched event in the world) will help to promote the differential values of Barcelona and, by proximity, of La Barceloneta?

Through a strategy of communication and promotion of the city. Visitors who come to Barcelona and those who follow the America’s Cup on television must be able to grasp the city and the neighbourhood that we are and that we want to be. Our values. And this is done through the media but also through street actions. The Communication Department of the City Council and the District, together with the Barcelona Nautical Capital Foundation and the America’s Cup, are working on this proposal.

If such a big project has come to our neighbourhood, can we believe that it can also attract or generate other educational, cultural and economic projects that bring wealth to the population? In other words, will it help to (finally) have new facilities and industry and thus opportunities for entrepreneurs and employment?

Beyond the America’s Cup, generating opportunities for entrepreneurs and generating employment is one of the fundamental objectives of Mayor Collboni’s government. The America’s Cup also fits in because it is an event that allows us to reinforce this line of work. It is an accelerator for the projects we are already working on and helps to give them meaning. In the short term, while the competition lasts, we can talk about the opportunities for the commercial or catering sectors, as well as for tasks related to the sea, but in the medium term there is a commitment to the nautical sector and the technology that is here to stay.

So far, we are quite clear about what fishing, port transport, the shipbuilding industry bring us, but do we know how other activities such as those related to the nautical industry will revive? Will we recover the trades and apprenticeships of these jobs? If so, will CA help to make the specialised training that will nurture these needs available? Or will new ones emerge?

What we are very clear about is the priority of generating economic activity and employment. Creating work, generating jobs is the most important of social policies. And we must do this by developing new centres of activity in the territory, strategic centres of the future, such as everything related to the “blue economy”, everything to do with the sea and the nautical sector. Promoting major international goals related to this strategic economic sector, such as the America’s Cup, helps us to locate these lines of work in the territory. In addition, we are going to open lines of support and strengthening for entrepreneurship in the blue economy, as well as greater administrative simplification and seek tax improvements for the creation and growth of companies.

Do you think the people of Barcelona have much knowledge of sea-related sports? And if it is not too much to pretend, can AC make these disciplines available to anyone of all cultural and economic levels? Would it be crazy to think of a BCN team competing... and do we name the Barceloneta team’s boat Barceloneta...? (That would be awesome!)

There are still chapters to be written in the conquest of the sea by the people of Barcelona. Urbanistically, the city has already recovered the sea. But it is true that we still have some way to go to consolidate the culture of the sea. Water sports must be in the imagination of the people of Barcelona as other sports are, and their practice must be as easy and popular as other sports. That is why we plan, during this term of office, to broaden the horizons of sport, converting the waterfront into the Blue Pavilion, the ideal setting to bring beach and sea sports to the public. The America’s Cup is another opportunity to move in this direction.

There is a lot of wealth that the sea offers us, and the rich and diverse food products that we have. Do you think that the AC could also be a good showcase to revalue their value as local food and the restaurants and gastronomy that uses them? Will the zarzuela come back and will we bring people from the rest of Barcelona and beyond back down to La Barceloneta as a quality gastronomic space related to the sea?

Undoubtedly. The America’s Cup is a very good opportunity to showcase the gastronomic and restaurant offer in Barceloneta. And it is necessary to do so in terms of quality, uniqueness and proximity. Precisely, from the district we are working with the Department of Commerce on a work plan along these lines, which we will present publicly. A plan that takes advantage of the momentum of the America’s Cup but goes further: it aims to consolidate the gastronomic and restaurant offer of Barceloneta as a quality brand, both for the rest of the citizens of Barcelona and for the visitors.

You may also be interested in

More articles