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June 22, 2022

Barca strike deal for Olympic Stadium move during Camp Nou renovation

Spanish soccer giants Barcelona have struck a deal to play home games at the city’s Olympic Stadium during the 2023-24 season while Camp Nou is renovated, a move that will cost the club up to €20 million ($21.1 million).

By Susan Lingeswaran

Spanish soccer giants Barcelona have struck a deal to play home games at the city’s Olympic Stadium during the 2023-24 season while Camp Nou is renovated, a move that will cost the club up to €20 million ($21.1 million).

The one-season deal between the club and Barcelona City Council for the use of Estadi Olímpic Lluíz Companys was brokered by management company Barcelona de Serveis Municipals.

Under the deal, Barca will have full use of the stadium for both their men’s and women’s games.

The Estadi Olímpic Lluíz Companys has a capacity of 60,713, making it the fifth-largest stadium in Spain. It was the main venue for the city’s staging of the 1992 Olympic and Paralympic Games and was the home of LaLiga club RCD Espanyol until 2009.

Barca have said they are currently assessing what improvements need to be made to the stadium to meet the needs of the various competitions that the teams play in, with any investments to be paid by the club. It has estimated the cost to be between €15 million to €20 million.

The City Council and Barcelona are also developing a plan to improve public transport to and from the stadium, as well as maintenance and security services to ensure the least possible impact on the Montjuïc area of the city. That is expected to cost €7.2 million – 65% of which will be paid by the club, with the City Council to foot the remaining 36%.

Barca president Joan Laporta said: “FC Barcelona is committed to adapting the Olympic facilities and ensuring the comfort of our members and fans on match day.

“We will modernize various services and auxiliary spaces such as the press room, changing rooms, and the indoor parking area.

“We estimate that the transfer to Montjuïc will cost Barca between €15 million to €20 million. We are talking about the iconic venue of the Barcelona Olympics. We are talking about an international symbol of the city, and we would like our season here, 2023-24, to make this stadium the epicenter of Barca supporters, shared with this great city that is Barcelona.

“All members and season ticket holders who want to come to the stadium will be able to do so by means of a democratic system on a rotation basis so that as many people as possible get the chance to be here at the Estadi Olympic.”

Plans to move Barcelona’s home games to the Olympic stadium were made public in April when the club announced a timeline for construction work on the Camp Nou.

Camp Nou is set to be upgraded and expanded as part of Barcelona’s €1.5 billion Espai Barca project, which was approved by club members in December.

It is the currently largest stadium in Europe with a 99,354-seat capacity that will increase to 105,000 once refurbishments are completed, making it the third-largest stadium in the world behind North Korea’s Rungrado 1st of May Stadium and India’s Narendra Modi Stadium.

Plans also include installing a new roof to increase sustainability by incorporating a district head and cooling system.

As the club has stated they will not seek to expand the Olympic Stadium beyond its capacity, attendance to home matches during the 2023-24 season will almost halve.

Barcelona’s move mirrors that of rivals Real Madrid, who moved away from their home ground to reserve stadium Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano for the 2020-21 season while renovations took place at Santiago Bernabeu.

Jaume Collboni, Barcelona’s deputy mayor, said: “I don’t think there is any better way to celebrate this 30th anniversary of the Olympic Games than this gesture of support and collaboration between the city and FC Barcelona.

“Thirty years in which it has been shown, among other things, that our city was able to manage the Olympic legacy in an excellent manner, making these spaces useful for the city and especially for culture and sport.

“This is the best possible place for FC Barcelona to spend a season. And they will be doing so inspired by the Olympic values.”

Last week, Barcelona’s members approved plans to sell a minority stake in its licensing and merchandising division, as well as up to 25% of its LaLiga broadcast rights revenue, with the club looking to generate around €600 million for the club.  

The approval came a week after Barca's economic vice-president Eduard Romeu claimed the club needed €500 million to be “saved” from its financial crisis after amassing debt to the tune of nearly €1.5 billion in recent years, largely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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