Camp Nou redevelopment hit by uncertainty
Barcelona are hoping to complete their renovation of Camp Nou in 2025, with the newly redeveloped stadium the centre-piece of the club’s wider ‘Espai Barça’ project.
Some of the work is already ongoing and the Blaugrana are planning to play home games next season at the city’s Olympic Stadium in Montjuic during the more invasive aspects of work.
The idea was to return to Camp Nou at reduced capacity in 2024/25 while the remaining work was carried out, but then reap the financial reward of a state of the art home and venue once the project is complete. However, the timeline has been revised and completion will be during 2025/26.
Espai Barça has been in the pipeline for years, first approved in a vote by club members in 2014. With the first designs produced in 2016, it has already been heavily subjected to delays due to the impact of Covid-19 and the club’s well publicised financial strife.
But an extensive report from The Athletic has detailed the problems that the project has faced and continues to face.
Although the name of Josep Maria Bartomeu has become tantamount to a dirty word around Barcelona, the former president appeared to have an €815m project ready to go by the time his term in office came to an end.
Successor Laporta, who had wanted to redevelop Camp Nou during his first stint as president without success, subsequently put his own stamp on things upon returning to office in 2021 that took the proposed cost to €1.5bn.
Securing the financing for that level of cost has proven enormously difficult, especially with the changes to the plans potentially meaning that the new stadium will secure less future revenue than previously expected. As recently as March, Laporta claimed that the financing is in place, but that Barcelona are still working to try and ‘improve the term’s of that loan.
All those originally hired to work on the redevelopment, including architects, engineers and consultants are no longer involved, with many having left or been sacked. There is also concern that some of those hired more recently to oversee things lack the relevant experience for such a large and increasingly complicated project.
Barça had been granted a permit by the city council this time last year to start preliminary work. But further approval was still needed and, with the changes to the plans, there has had to a new consultation process. The club are still lacking the necessary permits and the current plans are drawn from the work of as many as four different architectural firms.
To makes matters even worse, Real Madrid’s redevelopment of the Bernabeu seems to be going well and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Barça may be ahead on the pitch right now, but behind the apparent chaos behind the scenes is hard to ignore.
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