CARLOS CASARES, Argentina (Reuters) - Build it and they will come is a phrase associated with baseball but in Argentina, where football is king, a soy bean millionaire has done just that, building a soccer club from scratch that is now knocking on the door of the country’s first division.
Bernardo Grobocopatel, a farmer in Carlos Casares, a small city 186 miles west (300 km) of the capital Buenos Aires, made his fortune from the production and transportation of grains but that wasn’t enough for the ambitious football fanatic.
“We were doing well economically but I felt there was something missing in my life and that was doing what I felt passionate about,” Grobocopatel told Reuters, explaining why he started Club Agropecuario Argentino.
“We started from zero, literally from nothing. No players, no pitch, no buildings at all,” he said of the $20 million investment that included a brand new stadium for 12,000 people, over half of the entire 20,000 population of the surrounding city.
Argentina is the world’s third biggest exporter of soybeans and the biggest international provider of soybean oil and meal.
Grobocopatel’s (pictured in the accompanying photo) investment has pushed the team to the threshold of Argentina’s first division after just six years of existence.
After leading the second tier earlier this year three successive losses have dented their chances a little, but they are still in a dog fight for a coveted playoff place and the chance to face giants such as River Plate and Boca Juniors next year.
(The story corrects capacity of stadium to 12,000 from 20,000)
Writing by Andrew Downie, Editing by William Maclean