La Liga champions FC Barcelona have confirmed that they will move ahead with plans to build a new stadium on the site of their current home, the Camp Nou.
The Barcelona board of directors voted unanimously on Monday 20th January to go with the remodelling project, and against a plan to build a stadium on a new site near Barcelona’s Avenida Diagonal.
Camp Nou, in the district of Les Corts, has been the club’s home since it was built in 1957.
The plans, which will be put to the club’s 160,000 members ahead of an April referendum before planning permissions are sought, would see refurbishments costing a reported €600 million (US$812 million) carried out between May 2017 and February 2021.
“The option of building a new stadium on a new site has been dismissed as the final cost could well mortgage the club and its members and tie the hands of future boards,” said Barca president Sandro Rosell.
“The project we have chosen is achievable. To continue leading the field, we need to take this historic step, which will need the efforts of all of us, but which will guarantee the comfort of a new stadium with the most up to date technologies for its users and our sports people. We will also multiply the value of our property and our ability to generate new additional earnings without the need to sell or reduce our patrimony.”
The plans include increasing total capacity from 99,354 to 105,000 as well as the installation of a roof to cover the stands, but not the pitch. The sports hall adjacent to the Camp Nou will also be redeveloped, with work set to run from 2017 to 2019.
The plans were arrived at following a €1 million study with involvement from international experts such as ISG, AEG, Icon Venue Group, and RLB.
The cost of the development is expected to be paid off within eight years, with the remodelled stadium projected to bring in an extra €29 million (US$39 million) in revenue each year.
Barcelona’s total revenues were €509 million (US$689 million) last year.
Crucially, the new stadium plans include the placement of a new central master camera position, which will allow commercial exploitation of a second television unit, and an increase in VIP seating by 3,500 to 5,700.
Speaking exclusively to SportsPro in 2012, Barcelona chief marketing officer Laurent Colette explained the need for a better hospitality offering. “The stadium was not really built with hospitality in mind,” he said. “We’ve got a little bit more than 2,000 VIP seats so compared with other clubs that’s not perfect. The quality is not perfect, either.
“Our stadium is a bit like a multi-layered cake so if you are in the boxes you see the field in cinemascope, while in modern stadiums it’s totally panoramic. That’s important. Football is not only on the pitch, you need to see the stadium, see the stands and the fans and the giant screens.”