FC Barcelona chief executive Ferran Reverter has revealed that the Spanish LaLiga club is considering playing matches at the city’s Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys while renovation work is carried out at the Camp Nou, and also confirmed the team is evaluating “various offers” for naming rights to the revamped venue.
The capacity of the Camp Nou will rise to 105,000 as part of Barcelona’s wide-ranging Espai Barça project, which will also deliver a new Palau Blaugrana arena and the Campus Barça development.
In October, delegate members at the club voted in favour of the board of directors’ proposal to negotiate a financing operation of up to €1.5bn (£1.28bn/$1.69bn) for the project. This support must be ratified via an online referendum on December 19 in which all club members will vote.
Barcelona has never held an online referendum and club president Joan Laporta said this week that the vote will be a “great challenge”. Laporta said the vote will be held online to give members from around the world the chance to vote on the funding proposals.
Delegate members have already backed the proposal, with 405 votes in favour, 21 against and six abstentions. Reverter said the online referendum is being held to confirm delegate members’ earlier decision and allow more members to have their say.
Reverter also sought to justify the €1.5bn figure, which is significantly higher than the €600m that was approved when the project was first proposed in 2014. Barcelona has previously revealed that it has invested €145m in Espai Barça since 2014 but only completed five per cent of the work, with the €600m figure having become “outdated” in the intervening years.
It is anticipated that the project will take four years once approved. During the first season of work, the Camp Nou will be partially closed while work is carried out, before Barcelona plays one year away from the stadium. For the following two seasons, Barcelona will return to the Camp Nou but the stadium will once again be partially closed.
Laporta has already revealed that Barcelona will spend some time away from the Camp Nou and Reverter has not discounted the Estadi Olímpic as a potential temporary home. The stadium, which was formerly known as the Estadio de Montjuïc, has a capacity of around 60,000 and was used as the centrepiece of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
“We have to decide where we will go as it will not be the first season but the second,” Reverter said. “Montjuïc is an option but we are also looking at internal solutions. What can be discounted is playing outside of the city or the urban area of Barcelona. We will not be going to Girona, for example.”
Reverter confirmed that Barcelona is negotiating and evaluating various offers for naming rights to the Camp Nou.
“It would be important to have it settled as soon as possible as it gives more credibility to the project in the eyes of investors,” he said. “We are at an advanced stage and we are looking at offers which go from 10 to 20 years. Obviously, we will include in the contract that in no more than 10 years we will be able to decide if we continue or not should the offer become outdated.”
Reverter also said that funding for the Espai Barça project would almost certainly be led by Goldman Sachs.
The first part of Espai Barça saw the opening of the new Estadi Johan Cruyff in August 2019. It is hoped that work on the Camp Nou expansion will begin in the summer of 2022.