La Liga leaders Barcelona have had plans to redevelop their Camp Nou stadium approved by the city council.
First approved in March 2016, the top-flight Spanish soccer side’s proposal has been hit by a series of regulatory challenges, including opposition from municipal groups and local residents. However, the city council’s governing board has now provisionally given the green light to a Modification to the General Metropolitan Plan (MGMP).
The €600million Espai Barça project will now be presented to the Municipal Council on 27th April and then the Catalan government for final approval.
One of the key pillars of the transformation involves opening up the Camp Nou and other Barcelona facilities rather than forming an urban barrier. The premises will blend into the La Maternitat and Sant Ramon districts and will be permeable, with new private spaces made available for public use without enclosures.
In terms of the Camp Nou itself, the stadium’s capacity will be expanded from 98,888 to around 105,000, with a roof set to be installed to provide shelter for all seats. In addition, a new perimeter ring will improve access and house VIP boxes and new restaurants, some of which will overlook the pitch.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says work on the Camp Nou is expected to begin in the summer of 2019 with the aim of completion by 2022.
“It's a historic project for the city,” Bartomeu said in a press conference. “To reach this agreement, until now the balance between the benefit for the club and the benefit to society has not been achieved, despite many hours of dialogue.
“The Camp Nou will now go from being a closed space, to a space open to the neighbourhood, friendly and where people can engage in lifestyle and city activities, with 32,000 square metres of green areas and underground parking. All this will be done without any expense for the city of Barcelona, despite what the city earns. It's a big gain for the city, at zero cost.
“It's been a difficult few days in a sporting sense, but today we're here to present this agreement. This is a project that will mark the future of the club, but it's also important for the Les Corts neighbourhood and the city of Barcelona in general. It's a great, balanced agreement for all, we're going to try and have the best stadium in the world.”
The redevelopment will also include a revamp of Barcelona’s offices, as well as new venues for their non-soccer sports teams, including their basketball, handball, roller hockey and futsal sides.
Meanwhile, the Barcelona B team will be relocated to the brand new Estadi Johan Cruyff, a 6,000-capacity venue which will be located just over eight kilometres from the Camp Nou. Uefa Youth League and Women’s Champions League matches will also be staged at the stadium, which is due to be ready this year.