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Espai Barça budget set to exceed €1bn – report

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The cost of FC Barcelona’s Espai Barça project, which includes the renovation of the Camp Nou and development work on the club’s other venues, is reportedly set to rise to more than €1bn (£864m/$1.2bn).

The initial budget for the project had been set at €600m but this has since risen to €725m, and it has now been reported that the costs are likely to increase again.

Catalan radio station RAC1, citing sources close to Espai Barça, said that more than €1bn must be allocated for the club to carry out a project of this scale.

Earlier this month, Barcelona announced that it had made “small architectural changes” in an attempt to get Espai Barça back on track, with the club targeting Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys as a potential temporary home while work is taking place on the Camp Nou.

The following week, Bill Bannarelli resigned his role as head of Espai Barça. Mannarelli joined the club in July 2014 and his departure came after Joan Laporta returned to the club as president in March.

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 a meeting earlier this month, Barcelona said Laporta and mayor of the city Ada Colau discussed “small changes” in the Espai Barça project with “some adaptations” needed in order to be able to “start the works shortly”.

The project also includes the 7,500-seat Palau Blaugrana, which serves as the home of Barcelona’s basketball and handball clubs 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 to be one of the main features of the revamped stadium.

The cost of the Palau Blaugrana project has reportedly risen from €90m to €250m, while work on the Camp Nou is set to cost more than the originally intended €400m.

In October, Barcelona signed an €815m loan agreement with US investment bank Goldman Sachs for the funding of the development plan. RAC1 reported that the Barcelona board will look to maintain this funding but adjustments are set to be made.

Meanwhile, Barcelona has announced that a new COVID-19 vaccination centre will open at the Camp Nou on May 27. The centre will be open in the morning from Monday to Friday and will be able to administer up to 2,500 does of the vaccine per week.

The centre, which will feature four vaccination booths, will be open for three weeks. Nursing staff from Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic will administer the vaccinations.

Image: Alessio Patron on Unsplash