FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed that the LaLiga club will be forced to play away from the Camp Nou while renovation work is carried out at the stadium, with the Estadi Johan Cruyff being lined up as a potential part-time home.
In an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1, Laporta said that the club hopes to begin work on the Camp Nou expansion in the summer of 2022. The expansion will form part of the club’s wide-ranging Espai Barça project and will increase the Camp Nou’s capacity to 110,000.
The work is expected to take three to four years and Laporta feels the project’s impact on the city of Barcelona can be “like the Olympic Games”. Laporta also confirmed that the Camp Nou will include the name of a sponsor once the expansion work has been completed.
Barcelona completed the first part of the Espai Barça project with the opening of Estadi Johan Cruyff in August 2019. The stadium serves as the home of the Barça B and women’s teams, as well as the U19 side when it plays in European competitions.
The stadium has a capacity of just 6,000 but Laporta said the venue could be temporarily expanded to accommodate the first team while work is carried out at the Camp Nou. Season ticket holders would rotate attendance throughout the year if the Estadi Johan Cruyff ends up hosting matches.
“It is being looked at, extending the Estadi Johan Cruyff’s capacity to 40,000 or 50,000 spectators,” said Laporta. “They say it is possible and the most difficult part would be the effect on mobility and parking, but architecturally it could be done.”
Laporta revealed that Barcelona is looking to request €1.5bn (£1.3bn/$1.7bn) of credit to fund Espai Barça, with this to be repaid by the income generated through the project. Barcelona is in talks with US financial services giant Goldman Sachs over a potential funding agreement for the project.
“The way to finance the project is that once it is built and starts to generate income, the club will retain a small part of that income and when that limit is reached, the rest will repay the credit,” said Laporta. “If the project works, then repayment will start soon.”
He added: “When the project is presented, I think the members will be proud. Espai Barça can have the same impact on the city that the Barcelona Olympic Games had in its time. We will become a reference point in the world of leisure, with a futuristic, modern and sustainable stadium.”
Laporta was re-elected as Barcelona president in March, having previously led the club from 2003 to 2010.