Design & Development

Barcelona ‘pauses’ Camp Nou fundraising

Featured image credit: FC Barcelona

Featured image credit: FC Barcelona

Spanish LaLiga football club FC Barcelona has reportedly paused plans to raise $1.5bn (£1.24bn/€1.41bn) through a bond issue to pay for its wide-ranging Espai Barça project.

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three people with knowledge of Barcelona’s plans, said the fundraising has been put on hold after the club “baulked” at the terms of the deal, which has been impacted by increasing borrowing costs in the US.

Barcelona is now said to be considering alternative arrangements to fund the revamp of its Spotify Camp Nou stadium. The club last month unveiled plans to pay for the Espai Barça project through a €1.5bn bond issue that runs until the second half of the century.

Club president Joan Laporta confirmed that the bonds had been certified by Morningstar Sustainalytics and would be issued on the US market in the Green Bond category. They were given a stable BBB+ rating by the Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

Laporta, who said last month that the funding required to commence work on the project would be in place by March 31, did not announce further details of the issue, but Spanish newspaper El Economista claimed that there would be three tranches, each of $500m, expiring in 2032, 2045, and 2052.

The Financial Times has now reported that discussions with private investors have stalled after US borrowing costs rose to 2007 levels. The newspaper, citing another person briefed on the deal, added that Barcelona could decide on a “new method of financing”.

In January, Barcelona appointed Turkish company Limak Construction to carry out the €960m redevelopment of its stadium, with work scheduled to begin in June following the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.

Limak, which recently chose Barcelona to act as a hub for its European and Latin American projects, was a surprise choice as it only has experience of building one football stadium, the 25,500-capacity Mersin Arena in Turkey.

Barcelona last month retained the services of Japanese architectural and engineering firm Nikken Sekkei for the Camp Nou project. Nikken Sekkei will serve as a ‘design guardian’ for the revamped stadium. The company, in conjunction with Pascual y Ausió Arquitectes, were the winners of the competition to design the new Camp Nou in 2016.

The Espai Barça project also includes the delivery of a new Palau Blaugrana arena and the wide-ranging Campus Barça development. The capacity of the Camp Nou will increase from 98,000 to 105,000 as part of the revamp.

Barcelona will spend the 2023-24 season at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys while the Camp Nou undergoes renovation.