Espai Barça project: the creation of a sports campus in the heart of Barcelona

During the ESSMA Summit in Porto, William Mannarelli - Director of Real Estate at FC Barcelona - gave participants the latest updates on the Espai Barça project during the Stadium Development II Seminar.

The Espai Barça project is a large-scale infrastructure redevelopment project to improve (and expand) all FC Barcelona’s infrastructure including their training facilities, Camp Nou Stadium, Palau Blaugrana, the club’s offices as well as the commercial and leisure facilities. 

Interview with William Mannarelli:

The new training facilities

FC Barcelona’s training facilities at the Sant Joan Despi site (8.5 km from Camp Nou) will be redeveloped to better fit the needs of the club and its players. The revamped training centre will feature new and improved training facilities for the first team, the youth teams and the Barça B team.

The stand-out feature of this project will be the new Estadi Johan Cruijff. The 6,000-seat stadium will replace the current Mini Estadi for matches of Barça B and Barcelona Women. Construction work started on 14 september 2017 and is currently still ongoing. The estimated opening date for Estadi Johan Cruijff is May 2019.

Nou Camp Nou

The legendary Camp Nou stadium will be renovated and expanded to better fit the needs of the FC Barcelona fans. The capacity, which is currently at 99,354 will be increased to 105,000. Nou Camp Nou was designed by Japanese architectural firm Nikken Sekkei and local architects Pascual i Ausio Arquitectes. The revamped Nou Camp Nou will see some significant alterations: 

  • The third tier will be expanded and will feature a 360° Rambla skywalk.
  • A roof structure covering over 47,000 m2 will be added to make sure all seats are sheltered from the weather. 
  • The stadium will feature an open facade with wide walkways around the outside of each tier. 
  • At least 10 rows of seating in the first tier will be replaced by (around) 100 new hospitality boxes, located fairly low in the stadium bowl to offer fans an excellent view of the pitch. 

The Espai Barça project also includes plans to improve the Barça museum, Barça store and Barça stadium tour experience as well as additional buildings to house their HQ and offices, commercial and leisure facilities, a hotel and underground parking.

Nou Palau Blaugrana

On the opposite side of the street from Nou Camp Nou, FC Barcelona will (re)develop its infrastructure for its other professional sports teams. This site actually consists of five main (re)development projects:

  • Nou Palau Blaugrana 
  • Petit Palau 
  • The new FC Barcelona Ice Rink 
  • Additional bus parking
  • New football pitches and Barça Escola Facilities 

The main (re)development on this site will be Nou Palau Blaugrana, which will be improved and expanded to host FC Barcelona’s professional basketball and handball teams. The indoor arena with an asymmetrical bowl was designed by ESSMA Corporate Partner HOK and TAC Architects. It is a multifunctional arena with different configurations. It has a capacity of up to 10,000 spectators for sports events and up to 12,500 spectators for other events.

Main takeaways 

  • A stadium tour and museum experience can be profitable, you can invest in these experiences to make them even more attractive for visitors.
  • Try to involve neighbourhood organisations to discuss a new (stadium) project, listen to what the community wants.
  • Try to give back space to the community by opening up more spaces for the general public, while still keeping the club’s infrastructure safe.
  • Think about different modes of transport, a modern stadium has to accommodate for public transport, pedestrians, cyclists, cars and motorbikes.
  • A (larger) club can be successful in many different domains other than just the football matches. Stadium and museum tours, hotels, retail,... with the Barça brand can all be profitable.
  • Bringing together youth teams, the first team and reserves on the same site can help create a synergy that can elevate the club to a higher level.