Barcelona presented plans for the extensive renovation of their Camp Nou stadium on Thursday that will see the capacity of Europe’s biggest stadium extended to 105,000 and an open facade to allow views across the city.
“It will be a unique stadium,” said club president Josep Maria Bartomeu at the presentation inside the stadium attended by the first-team squad.
“It will be an open and attractive Camp Nou that will be a new icon in Barcelona.”
Work will begin in 2018 with the new features not due to be completed until 2021, as Barca plan for the majority of the work to be done during the off-season to allow the team to continue playing their home games at the Camp Nou.
“It is great news for everyone, although everyone will enjoy it in a different way; some playing, some watching,” said 31-year-old captain Andres Iniesta.
Inaugurated in 1957, despite its size the Camp Nou has become outdated in its structure and facilities compared to the stadiums of many of Europe’s other leading clubs.
The renovation, which will be carried out by Japanese architects Nikken Sekkei, will increase the capacity from the current 99,350, improve access to the stadium and hospitality services, as well as introducing new technologies.
A high-tech 47,000 square metre roof that will cover all four stands will be solar-powered and recycle rain water for the stadium’s irrigation.
The most striking element of the design is the open facade with sprawling concourses on every tier, the highest of which will offer a panoramic view of Barcelona from the sea to the mountains.
A budget of 420 million euros ($477 million) has been estimated for the project that will be financed in large part by finding a naming rights sponsor, which Bartomeu also hopes will reduce the club’s 320 million euro debt.
Barcelona are the world’s second richest club behind bitter rivals Real Madrid with a turnover in 2015 of 608 million euros.
“Without a limit of debt around 200 million euros, we will not start the project,” added Bartomeu.
“We will do it without putting at risk the viability of the sporting project.”
The renovation is part of the Espacio Barca project that will also modernise the facilities around the stadium, including a new arena for the Barca basketball team and increasing commercial space.