Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of Spanish LaLiga football club Barcelona, has revealed that construction work on the Palau Blaugrana could be halted as it reconsiders the finances of the Espai Barça project in the wake of COVID-19.

The current 7,500-seat Palau Blaugrana, which serves as the home of Barcelona’s basketball and handball clubs, forms part of the wider Espai Barça development plan. It first opened in 1971 and is set to be replaced by a new arena.

Espai Barça seeks to transform and integrate Barcelona’s stadia and arenas, with the redevelopment of the Camp Nou central to the project. In interviews with El Matí de Catalunya Radio and El Món a RAC1, Bartomeu insisted that redevelopment of the Camp Nou will be prioritised but other work, such as the Palau Blaugrana, can be put on hold.

“We still have many things to do, such as approving the new financing for Espai Barça,” Bartomeu said. “When we can, because of the health situation, we will have members vote in a referendum.

“The Camp Nou must be improved … Other spaces can be halted, such as the Palau Blaugrana, which can wait one, two or three years. But the Camp Nou we have to move forward with because it will be a great source of income.

“The budget must adapt to the new income. We also have to see when we will be able to have the venues at full capacity, as well as the museum and the academies around the world.”

In January, it was reported that Barcelona had formed a dedicated business unit designed to drive better performance from the operations of the Palau Blaugrana. The unit will look to sign specific sponsorship deals and launch marketing campaigns for the arena.

In other news, the Reuters news agency has reported that construction companies Ferrovial, Sacyre, FCC and Acciona are in contention to secure the contract to upgrade the Camp Nou.

Reuters, citing sources close to the matter, reported that the four companies have each partnered with local firms to bid for the project. The report added that final submissions will be made in the autumn, with the winner to be announced before the end of the year ahead of construction work potentially starting next May.

The Camp Nou’s capacity will increase from around 99,000 to over 105,000, with a new roof set to be one of the main features of the revamped stadium.

Image: Espai Barça