Barcelona will play their home games during the 2023-24 season at the Olympic Stadium in the city with work due to begin on revamping Camp Nou this summer, the club confirmed on Thursday.
Barca members approved a €1.5 billion funding package to regenerate the club’s ageing 99,354-seater stadium and the surrounding area in a referendum last December.
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A licence has now been granted by the local council to begin the developments, with work set to start in June, when the existing campaign ends. It will take four years for the renovation to be carried out.
President Joan Laporta said most of the construction can be carried out alongside sporting activity, but the club will have to vacate their home for one season in 2023-24. Laporta had hoped to be able to play at the 6,000-seater Johan Cruyff stadium at the club’s training ground, but plans to increase the capacity were not viable at this moment in time.
Instead, they will temporarily relocate to the Olympic Stadium in the Montjuic area of the city.
The ground was previously home to Barca’s rivals Espanyol, who played there between 1997 and 2009, and was also where Lionel Messi made his competitive debut for the Blaugrana.
It was originally built in 1927 but was renovated in 1989 to be used for the 1992 Olympic Games which took place in Barcelona and holds a capacity of 60,713.
Barca’s €1.5bn project will see them transform Camp Nou into a 105,000-seater stadium that they say will be “at the avant-garde of technology.”
The stadium first opened in 1957 and remains Europe’s largest, but the 64-year-old venue is in need of a face-lift.
The grand plans to renovate the ground were first approved by Barca members back in 2014 but due to myriad issues the club have only been able to carry out a tiny fraction of the proposed work.
The new Camp Nou will boast a retractable roof covered in 30,000 square metres of solar panels. This energy will be used to power the new 360-degree screen that will run around the entire interior of the stadium, as well as various security systems. In another effort to improve the ground’s sustainability, rainwater will also be collected and recycled.
Outside, the concourse will feature a raft of new office complexes and green spaces, as well as an on-site hotel, event spaces, an ice rink and the “Palau Blaugrana” — a smaller pavilion arena that is primarily the home of the basketball team.
Meanwhile, former Barca coach Ronald Koeman called on the club to give Xavi Hernandez time to turn things around following back-to-back LaLiga defeats at Camp Nou to Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano.
“The situation at Barcelona is the same as when I was there,” Koeman, who was sacked last October, said at the launch of a golf event in Catalonia on Thursday.
“Changing the coach doesn’t always mean things will improve. It hurts to see the club’s situation. I ask for the club to support Xavi.
“He’s a good coach, a legend. He’s not to blame for the situation. So that’s all I ask. I did not have complete support from the president and I hope lessons have been learned from that.
“When I left, [Real] Madrid were eight points ahead and now the gap is almost double that. There is no need to gloss over things, if you lose those last two games at home, there is a reason for that.
“That’s the reality right now. Barca need time to return to what they were before and that requires long-term support [from the top].”