“With a maximum allowed capacity of 6,000 people, it is impossible to schedule a bullfight in Las Ventas. One thing is a festival like the one on the 2nd, with the bulls given away and minimal expenses, and quite another is a greater celebration with the demands of Madrid ”.
Simón Casas, a businessman from the Madrid bullring, is so blunt. And not happy with his statement, he insists on doing the math:
“With an average price of 40 euros per location, the box office turnover would be 240,000 euros; subtract 80,000 euros from fixed organization expenses (the company has 400 employees), to which must be added the price of a quality bullfight, which ranges between 80,000 and 120,000 euros, and the salary of a bullfighting figure, who can reach 240,000 euros. Do you see how the numbers do not come out?
“To open the doors of Las Ventas”, he insists, “the capacity must be increased, at least, to 75%, some 18,000 people; otherwise, the figures cannot come ”.
Simón Casas, the visible head of the Plaza1 company along with Rafael García Garrido, knows that he is in the eye of the hurricane. The fans hold him responsible for the fact that the bullfighting arena has been closed since October 13, 2019, and the French producer defends himself tooth and nail.
“To open the square, the capacity must be increased, at least, to 75 percent”
He exclusively blames the pandemic, and insists again and again that the future is pending the formation of a new Government in the Community of Madrid, and a meeting is called in which the roadmap that gives the green light is established. to the festivities.
“What I am very clear about is that 2021 will not end without major bullfighting events being held in Madrid,” he continues. “There will be a reduced season, but there will be. The ultimate goal is to have a great Fall Fair scheduled in late September and early October, over several weekends; and before, on a date that has not yet been specified, some extraordinary bullfight, such as the Charity or the Culture ”.
Casas repeatedly emphasizes a crucial issue for his company.
“The contract that we signed in November 2016 with the Community of Madrid has been suspended since the pandemic appeared, which devastated not only the bulls, but also the world economy. And now it is necessary to rebalance it so that bullfighting celebrations can be offered ”.
And the businessman explains the meaning of the verb ‘rebalance’.
“The approach is as follows: the benefit of the San Isidro Fair is what sustains the economy of the square throughout the year; But since it has not been possible to celebrate, there is no money to put on other shows and, therefore, a solution must be found with the Community. That is the rebalancing, which is in the law and is not our requirement; it is a need that everyone must understand ”.
“Madrid is not just any square,” continues the businessman, “for the good of the party, we must maintain a high-level program; The bull of Madrid is irreplaceable, as is the demand of his fans, and both realities are legitimate and must be respected. Consequently, here it is more difficult to lower the fees of a figure who comes to risk his life and who, in addition, fills the square ”.
Casas assures that the relations with the Government of the Community are excellent, and he is convinced that it will be possible to reach a beneficial agreement for both parties because both are interested in the bulls returning to Las Ventas.
“There is no political problem,” he assures. And he adds that the dialogue with the property is constant, open and constructive: “But we must all understand that if there is no San Isidro Fair there is no benefit, which is what the company reinvests, in part or in full, to maintain the rest of the season ”.
“We want to open the plaza and we are going to open it,” he concludes, “but under what conditions? For that we need to sit down and analyze the situation. What we cannot do is commit suicide ”.
“This year will not end without major bullfighting events being held in Madrid”
Question. Anyway, anyone could think that two years without the San Isidro Fair is a failure of the company …
Answer. Whoever thinks so is free to do so, but they are wrong. My partner and I cannot give bulls, even if we wanted to, because the contract is suspended.
P. But you will not be able to deny that it is a black mole on your resume.
R. Not because. We have organized three fairs in San Isidro and three in Autumn under normal conditions, and they have been a success. Then the pandemic arrived, and like a war or an earthquake, it has wiped out everything. Therefore, it is not a black mole for me, but for the whole of society.
P. But you cannot deny that almost two years without bulls in Madrid is a catastrophe …
R. It is not a catastrophe. It’s not good for Seville, Pamplona, Bilbao, Mexico… Why are you only talking to me about Madrid?
P. Because it is the most important square.
R. Okay, and what do you want me to do. He will not pretend that I am about to die. The pandemic is not good for the bulls or for any economic sector.
P. The El Toro de Madrid Association sent a letter to the Community and its company last Friday in which it shows its rejection of the situation in the square and its outrage that celebrations are not being held.
R. Sometimes things are more complicated than some fans think. I am the first interested in having bulls in Madrid, but the conditions must be agreed depending on the circumstances.
P. By the way, there are only a few hours left (the interview is held on Friday at noon) for the San Isidro de Vistalegre Fair to begin. Doesn’t your stomach turn upside down?
R. Frankly, no. It is evident that San Isidro could not be celebrated in Las Ventas; If Vistalegre can organize it, welcome, and, if necessary, I would buy a ticket to support that initiative. It is not the same to manage a private place than a public one. In the former there is freedom to act, while Las Ventas depends on the decision of a government council.
P. What you cannot deny is that with the pandemic you will have stopped earning a lot of money …
R. No, because I hardly ever win, and not because I’m stupid, but because I put my passion before speculation. I have had no income, which is different, and this has forced me to balance my company financially, and I have succeeded. Come on, I’m not broke, as some proclaim. If so, this year it will not have won two competitions in France (Beziers and Nimes), and two in Spain (Alicante and Albacete).
Simón Casas has smoked half a pack of blond cigarettes in two hours; With a couple of days’ beard and that informal style of someone who refuses to admit that he has turned 70, he goes to his apartment in central Madrid to watch the Vistalegre bullfight on television. “I have not been vaccinated yet and it scares me,” he says. “And do not forget, please, that the dream of my life was to be an entrepreneur at Las Ventas and organize large events … but when possible …”.
And it gets lost, with those gaits of cowboy malencarado, through the streets of the big city.