Members of FC Barcelona have approved the plan to redevelop their iconic stadium Camp Nou. Built in 1957 and enlarged in 1982, Camp Nou holds 98,000. The plan is to increase that to 105,000.
And club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was seemingly pleased with the result of the referendum to decide on plans to redevelop the Camp Nou, although he kept his head, preferring not to let it show.
“This project is a huge step in terms of maintaining our club’s place at the top of the game. Going forward, we have decided our plan for the club’s future, which we will put into action as soon as the season is over. We’ll have a new Camp Nou that every Barcelona fan can be proud of in 2021”, he said.
“We must congratulate ourselves. We’ve shown our single-mindedness as owners in continuing to decide our club’s future. On days like today, the whole world can see what Barça are all about”, he said.
“We’ll work so that in time those members who voted ‘no’ are also proud of the project”, he concluded.
Involved in a tense La Liga title race, locked in a Champions League battle with Atletico Madrid, facing a transfer ban due to alleged irregularities involving the signing of youth players, plus a tax investigation over the murky deal to buy Neymar — it has been a testing season for the Catalan outfit.
And the reaction has been one of defiance.
Before Saturday’s 3-1 win at home to Real Betis, a big flag in the Camp Nou stated “Don’t touch La Masia” — a response to FIFA’s punishment for infringing transfer rules relating to players under the age of 18.
Some 118,000 members were called to vote after the Betis match in the club’s first referendum since 1950, when it was decided to leave the Corts stadium and build a new one — the Camp Nou.
More than 27,000 members approved plans for a $725 million revamp that will extend the ground’s capacity to 105,000 people and develop the surrounding areas. Just over 9,500 voted against.
The project is due to start in 2017 and be completed four years later, including the creation of a 12,000-capacity multi-sports pavilion and 5,000 new parking spaces.
The original Camp Nou was designed by architects Francesc Mitjans Miró and Josep Soteras Mauri, with the collaboration of Lorenzo García Barbón, and it was constructed between 1955 and 1957, using mainly concrete and iron. The whole project cost a staggering 288 million pesetas, which meant the club would spend the following years in heavy debt.
Although it was originally going to go under the official name of ‘Estadi del FC Barcelona’, it soon came to be popularly known as the ‘Camp Nou’ (the ‘new ground’), as opposed to the club’s old home at Les Corts. It was not until the 2000/2001 season that, following a mail vote made by the club membership, that the decision was made to make ‘Camp Nou’ the official name of the stadium.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s win on the pitch kept Barca a point behind Atletico with six games to play, ahead of Wednesday’s second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal at Vicente Calderon, with the score 1-1.