Spanish LaLiga football club FC Barcelona has formed a dedicated business unit designed to drive better performance from the operations of its Palau Blaugrana arena.

Having first opened in 1971, the 7,500-capacity arena is home to Barcelona’s basketball and handball clubs. Part of the Espai Barça development plan, the current Palau Blaugrana is set to be replaced by a new arena and Barcelona is already making plans to ensure it is a success.

Spanish sports business website Palco23 reports that the club has appointed Albert Soler, director of professional sections and institutional relations in the football area, to head up the new business unit. A club source said: “The Palau Blaugrana must have its own sponsors, with marketing campaigns that revolve around its activity. We have to build our own story.”

The first phase of the project will involve optimising exploitation of the current Palau, in which attendances have dropped. This will revolve around a new ticketing strategy through which new packages will be created and season tickets limited to 4,300 in an effort to prevent members from choosing not to attend less popular games or events.

Barcelona is said to have discovered that there are more than 1,200 members who don’t attend games, and choose not to release their seats for resale. Palco23 said this contributes to Barcelona missing out on revenue of around €2.3m (£1.95m/$2.56m) per year from the Palau.

Designed by HOK and TAC Arquitectos, the new €90m Palau Blaugrana complex will be located on the site of the Miniestadi, and will consist of four independently operating spaces. There will be a large multifunctional arena, with capacity for 10,000 spectators for sports events, plus a Mini Palau with capacity for 2,000 spectators, and an ice rink. Above the ice rink and the Mini Palau will be the Barça Escola academy, which will have brand new facilities and two football fields.

Barcelona completed the first part of its Espai Barça masterplan with the opening of Estadi Johan Cruyff in August. The stadium has become the new home of the Barça B and women’s football teams, as well as the U19 side when it plays in European competitions.

Espai Barça seeks to transform and integrate Barcelona’s stadia and arenas. The programme envisages the redevelopment of the Camp Nou, and the creation of the Barça Campus, which involves opening the club facilities up to the city, removing architectural barriers and introducing measures to improve urban mobility in the vicinity of the stadium.

Image: FC Barcelona