The Ajuntament de Barcelona has today (Friday) presented a €40m (£33.7m/$44.1m) project that intends to transform the disused Palau d’Esports into the most advanced sports arena in Europe.

Barcelona’s city council has unveiled the design of the renovation project for a venue that first opened for the Catalan capital’s staging of the second edition of the Mediterranean Games in 1955, but has since fallen into disrepair.

The Palau d’Esports has hosted thousands of sporting events, but in the 1990s mainly became used for concerts and in 2000 was remodelled as Barcelona Teatre Musical. However, due to new safety regulations, the building became obsolete for concerts and has not been in use for the past 14 years.

The Ajuntament de Barcelona has now proposed its rebirth within the framework of the Barcelona Green Deal, the city’s urban and economic agenda that looks towards 2030. The Palau d’Esports will be redeveloped to become the headquarters of the Barcelona Sports Hub, a sports-focused innovation and technology venture located in the Olympic district of Montjuïc. The new-look arena intends to become a benchmark venue for esports.

The Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, centrepiece of Barcelona’s staging of the 1992 Olympic Games, will also be part of the Hub, which intends to create 450 new jobs. Respecting the current structure of the building, the design proposal of the new Palau contemplates the adaptation of 19,699 m2 of space for sports use, divided into two different areas. 

The upper space would have the function of a multi-purpose venue for sports such as handball, volleyball or basketball, with a capacity for between 3,700 and 4,100 spectators. In the case of hosting city events, this capacity would be increased by between 800 to 1,200.

The lower part of the arena would house an annex space of more than 1,400 m2, with its services for indoor sports convertible into an area for conferences and conventions. A multi-functional hall will provide access to the Palau and support for sporting events, business networking, innovation and culture.

In addition, the facility will grow with an annex building of 2,100 m2 of premises and offices for the Barcelona Sports Hub where start-ups and companies in the sports sector would be based.

The Ajuntament de Barcelona said: “The entire Palau would become an innovation laboratory, a smart and sustainable Palau Municipal d’Esports. A Palau capable of incorporating the innovations promoted by the Barcelona Sports Hub and remaining an international reference in sports technology.”

The management of the renovation of the Palau d’Esports will be done through the Institut Municipal Barcelona Esports as part of a public-private collaboration. A competition will be launched later this year to find a developer, with work expected to begin in 2024.

Deputy Mayor for Economy, Labour, Competitiveness and Finance, Jaume Collboni, said: “We present this project to recover the Palau d’Esports, not only to hold sports events but also to make it an icon of technology applied to sport.

“We want to have the most advanced sports arena in all of Europe and the most adaptable to change.”

Images: Ajuntament de Barcelona