Barcelona set to conclude deal for Estadi Olímpic stay

FC Barcelona has reached an agreement in principle for its proposed temporary move to Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, with the Spanish LaLiga football club not set to seek an expansion of the stadium for its stay, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The Barcelona-based sports newspaper said the club has agreed terms on the deal with Barcelona City Council, owners of Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, with only final signatures remaining.

In April, Barcelona confirmed that it will spend the 2023-24 season at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys as it announced the timeline for the major renovation of its Camp Nou stadium.

The Camp Nou is set to be revamped as part of the wide-ranging Espai Barça project. Renovation work at the stadium will begin in June after Barcelona City Council’s Governing Commission approved the award of a permit to expand its capacity to around 105,000.

Barcelona will not seek to expand the Estadi Olímpic beyond its 55,000-capacity as club officials are said to believe that a significant number of its members may choose to opt out of their season tickets for 2023-24, therefore ensuring the present capacity will be sufficient.

Without expansion, Mundo Deportivo said the savings in permits, works and infrastructure will be significant. Adaptation of the Estadi Olímpic is expected to begin imminently and will be completed before two Bruce Springsteen concerts that are due to be held in April 2023. After that point only a new pitch will be required.

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo has detailed the latest timeline for the Camp Nou transformation. While the forthcoming 2022-23 season is expected to be practically a normal one for Barcelona at its home stadium, 2023-24 at the Estadi Olímpic will see the Camp Nou’s entire third tier demolished and replaced by August 2024.

Barcelona will seek to return to the Camp Nou in 2024-25, with a restricted capacity of 66,000 across the first two tiers. Barcelona will aim to secure approval for its first three games of the LaLiga season to be played away from home to secure further time for construction work.

The third tier is set to remain closed for the 2025-26 season, with the lifting of the entire roof of the stadium set for August 2026, although this could take place a year earlier if work runs smoothly. Completion of the project has been targeted for September 24, 2026, in time for the 2026-27 season.

In December, Barcelona members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a funding proposal for the club’s wide-ranging Espai Barça project, which includes the Camp Nou scheme. A total of 42,693 members voted to ratify a decision made by delegate members in October to back the board of directors’ proposal to negotiate a financing operation of up to €1.5bn (£1.29bn/$1.56bn) for Espai Barça.

The online referendum on the funding proposal saw 87.8% of members support the project, with 10.4% voting against and 1.8% of votes left blank. A total of 48,623 members took part in the referendum, which marked a record for Barcelona.

The referendum ratified the authorisation for Barcelona’s board of directors to implement “whatever actions it deems necessary or convenient” to procure funding for Espai Barca. The club said that “under no circumstances” will the project cost more than €1.5bn.

Image: Pierre-Selim/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size