Sam Marsdencorrespondent in Barcelona7 minute read
The blinds of the Spotify Camp Nou were lowered on Sunday as champions of Spain Barcelona defeat Majorca 3-0 in the penultimate The league game of the season (stream the replay on ESPN+). The stadium that has been home to Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and many other legends of the game will be reshaped over the next 18 months after years of decline. Barça president Joan Laporta says that once the renovation is completed, the Catalan club will have “the best field in the world.”
More than 88,000 fans were on hand to say goodbye to the old stadium, which was originally opened in 1957. Barça marked the occasion with a video of some of the venue’s most historic moments, with Messi’s video prompting fans to shout his name at the Camp Nou in the hope of seeing him back at the club next season, before saying goodbye with a hurling display, dance routines, live music, confetti and fireworks.
In fact, renovation work began during the mid-season holidays for 2022. World Cup. A large section of a stand behind one of the goals was removed, reducing capacity in the second half of the season from 99,000 to 94,000. Now, with the end of the campaign, the much-needed modernization of the stadium will get underway.
History of the Camp Nou
Barça moved to the Camp Nou in the Les Corts area of the city 66 years ago, inaugurating the stadium with a series of friendlies involving the Warsaw XI, Flamengo, Burnley and Borussia Dortmund.
Years of history have followed. In 1960, they became the first team to defeat the five-time winner. real Madrid there from the European Cup. A decade later Cruyff arrived, who changed the history of the club and starred in many memorable moments, such as his incredible acrobatic goal against Atletico Madrid in 1973. There have been epic European comebacks, against Anderlecht in 1979 and Gothenburg in 1986; against Milan in 2013 and Paris Saint Germain in 2017, when the subsequent celebrations sergi robertoThe winner was so loud. They were recorded as a mini earthquake.
There has been a lot of Brazilian magic: Romario’s turn against Madrid in 1994, Ronaldo’s 47-goal campaign in 1996-97, Rivaldo’s bicycle kick against Valencia in 2001 and all kinds of witchcraft on the part of Ronaldinho.
However, not everything has always been smiles. In 1970, fans filled the field with their seat cushions in protest of referee Emilio Carlos Guruceta’s decision to penalize Madrid. In another match against Madrid years later, in 2002, fans threw objects at Luis Figo, including the now infamous pig’s head, after he betrayed the club by leaving for his Classic rivals.
More recently, the Camp Nou has provided the stage for Messi’s mastery, a little hand (win by five goals) against Madrid in 2010, the Pep Guardiola years and then the coach’s return as Bayern Munich in 2015 and, last year, the stadium twice broke the attendance record for a women’s soccer match. The current record, 91,648, was set in the UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg.
There have also been moments outside of Barça. The opening match of the 1982 World Cup was played at the Camp Nou, as was the final of the men’s soccer tournament at the 1992 Olympic Games. It also hosted manchester unitedThe remarkable late comeback against Bayern Munich to win the 1999 Champions League final and become the first English club to win the treble.
Why is Camp Nou closing?
Appearances can be deceiving at the Camp Nou. A drab concrete bowl from the outside gives way to an imposing, steep stadium when you enter. But while Europe’s largest ground remains impressive, especially on the biggest occasions, it has faded and degraded. The need for redevelopment has been obvious for a decade, as some of Barça’s biggest rivals built new stadiums: Real Madrid, for example, now plays in a remodeled Bernabéu.
Deep down, there have even been some serious problems with the stadium. Barça played 21 games there in 2019 and 2020 despite serious structural problems. The vanguard published reports showing there was a “risk of fragments falling onto fans on catwalks” and called for “immediate action.” Serious hygiene violations were also discovered, such as Another report noted pigeon nests covered in droppings. that attracted swarms of flies and mites, bird droppings all over the esplanades and an accumulation of earth that had been expanding for years.
Laporta admitted that the stadium was in decline in 2021 when he was elected for his second term as president and that the club needed to take immediate steps to pass security checks despite the impending renovation.
What plans does Barça have for the Camp Nou?
Plans to renovate the ground were first approved by Barça members in 2014, but due to countless issues (financial problems, the COVID-19 pandemic, a change of president), the project, which includes the redevelopment of the area around the stadium, it’s just getting started. More than 20 different lenders are helping to finance the €1.5 billion project, which will expand capacity to 105,000.
“The club will begin to reimburse the operation once the works on the stadium have been completed, using the income generated by the Camp Nou, which is expected to be around 247 million euros per year,” Barça said last month.
The stadium’s lower stands, which Barca say will be “at the forefront of technology”, will be renovated rather than replaced, but the plan is to install a new third stand to increase the number of VIP seats and therefore revenue. The naming rights agreement with Spotify, which is already in place, will also progressively increase in value.
The new stadium will have a roof covered with 30,000 square meters of solar panels, so that it no longer gets wet when it rains. This energy will be used to power the new 360-degree screen that will cover the entire interior of the stadium, as well as various security systems. In another effort to improve soil sustainability, rainwater will also be collected and recycled.
Outside, the esplanade will feature a series of new office complexes and green spaces, as well as a hotel, event spaces, an ice rink and the “Palau Blaugrana”, a smaller pavilion that is primarily home to the club basketball team.
Where will Barça go?
Meanwhile, Barça will be reluctant to rent the Olympic Stadium in the Montjuïc area of the city, where its rivals Spanish played between 1997 and 2009. The move, Barça estimates, will cost them around 90 million euros in annual revenue, partly due to the huge reduction in capacity to just 50,000 spectators, almost half the number of spectators that the Camp Nou can accommodate.
Other concerns include the location of the stadium, which was built in 1927 and renovated in 1989 for use in the 1992 Olympic Games. It sits on top of a hill in the center of the city and is difficult to access by public transportation. . Many subscribers will take advantage of an option offered by the club to not enjoy the season and return to the Camp Nou when the works are finished.
Barca coach Xavi has expressed concern about having to relocate, saying they will need fans more than ever to help them avoid losing that feeling of having home advantage. “It won’t be easy,” he said last weekend.
Xavi’s team have only lost one league game at home this season: a 2-1 defeat to Real society on May 20, a week after being confirmed as LaLiga champions for the first time since 2019. If Barça want to retain the title, they will have to find a way to make Montjuic a fortress as big as their beloved Camp Nou. .