Barcelona launch Camp Nou referendum
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has launched the campaign for a yes vote in April's referendum on the 600 million euro remodelling of the Camp Nou, saying the aim was for the Catalan club to have the best facilities in the world.
Barca's 118,578 socios can vote on April 5 on whether or not to accept the project, which would see the new Camp Nou seat 105,000 spectators with better protection from the elements, extended corporate hospitality facilities, an upgrade to Barca’s basketball, ice-hockey and swimming arenas, underground parking spaces and a new training ground for the [football] first team.
The Blaugrana chief said that the project would give players and fans one of the best settings in global sports as he unveiled an exhibition space at the stadium which showed voters the potential benefits of the new improved Camp Nou.
"This is the starting point of the referendum process," Bartomeu said. "This proposal is centred on a comprehensive face-lift of the stadium, and the new palau [multi-purpose arena].
"This will position Barca as the best club in the world in terms of facilities. It is a significant investment and we are confident of our ability to finance it."
Part of that financing will come from the sale of "surnaming rights" to the stadium for 200 million euros, which will be known as the "Camp Nou XXXX", with another third of the money coming from the club's own revenues and the final third being borrowed.
Barca's economic vice-president Javier Faus repeated previous claims made by the board that the financing of the project would not affect the club's ability to attract and retain top talent on the pitch.
"The project will at no point compromise the excellence of our club’s sporting policy," Faus said. "The project is financeable. We will not be saddling a generation of Barca members with big debt payments.
"A third of the project -- 200 million euros -- will be covered by sponsorship and the rest will come from our own assets and a syndicated loan. The club will have no bank debt after 2015.
"It is not as if we are reinventing the wheel. The fact that we owe nothing means we can take on new debt. This is a great project and a qualitative leap for the club."
Another Blaugrana vice-president, Jordi Cardoner, also lent his support for a 'yes vote', pointing out that the current ground does not meet the criteria required to host a Champions League final.
"The Camp Nou has evolved over the years, but UEFA are very demanding," Cardoner said. "We have identified areas where we can improve and we want the Camp Nou to be the best stadium of the 21st century."
Given the furore surrounding the current 99 million euro cost of the deal which brought Neymar to the club last summer, and the resignation in January of the stadium project’s initial backer Sandro Rosell from his former role as club president, the vote now looks very much like a referendum on whether the current board should remain in charge or not.
Should the referendum be successful, work is scheduled to start quickly and to be completed by 2021.