FC Barcelona has announced it has made “small architectural changes” in an attempt to get its Espai Barça project back on track, with the Spanish LaLiga football club targeting Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys as a potential temporary home while work is taking place on the Camp Nou.
The news was announced following a meeting between Barcelona president Joan Laporta (right of picture) and the mayor of the city, Ada Colau (left of picture). Yesterday’s (Thursday’s) gathering was the first formal meeting between the pair since Laporta’s return to power at Barcelona.
Laporta, the leader of one of Barcelona’s most successful periods, in March was elected as the new president, replacing Josep Maria Bartomeu. Laporta previously led Barcelona between 2003 and 2010, with Espai Barça now one of the priority tasks under his new mandate.
Barcelona completed the first part of its Espai Barça masterplan with the opening of Estadi Johan Cruyff in August 2019. 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.
However, little real progress has been made since the opening of Estadi Johan Cruyff, with arch rival Real Madrid forging ahead with its transformation of Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Following yesterday’s meeting, Barcelona said Laporta and Colau discussed “small changes” in the Espai Barça project with “some adaptations” needed in order to be able to “start the works shortly”.
The club added: “FC Barcelona expressed to the City Council its will to promote a series of small architectural changes in the Espai Barça project to make it more sustainable and technological.
“The representatives of the club have argued that after years of having the project on hold, it has become obsolete, and that the improvements that are to be made could make the work a little more expensive. In this context, FC Barcelona have asked the City Council to speed up the permits that will be required for a project that should have been underway years ago.
“On these aspects, both parties have shown an absolute understanding because it is not only a project for FC Barcelona, but for the city.”
Beyond delivery of the new Camp Nou, another key decision revolves around the future of the Palau Blaugrana. In July, Bartomeu revealed that construction work on the Palau Blaugrana could be halted as Barcelona reconsiders the finances of Espai Barça 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 10,500-seat arena.
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. The extensive work scheduled will mean that Barcelona is set to require a temporary home.
Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, which was the main stadium for Barcelona’s 1992 Summer Olympic Games, has been pinpointed for this role. It previously served as the home of Espanyol from 1997 to 2009, before the Segunda Division club moved to its new RCDE Stadium.
Barcelona added: “During the meeting, the possibility of Barça occupying the sports facilities on the Montjuïc mountain during a period in which the stadium would be closed to the public, was discussed.
“The idea that the club has is that while the work is being carried out, the stadium will never be less than at 80,000 capacity. However, it has been noted that, for a short period of time, the Camp Nou will not be able to host matches or spectators, which will force the club to provisionally search for a new home, and this will most likely be the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys.”
Image: FC Barcelona