Barcelona's Camp Nou renovation and expansion plans get go-ahead from city

Barcelona have been given the go-ahead for the €600 million renovation of the Camp Nou, which will have its capacity increased from 99,354 to 105,000, and the regeneration of the area surrounding the stadium.

After previous proposals had been rejected, president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Thursday that Barca had reached agreement with the local government for work to begin on the Espai Barca project.

The revamping of the Camp Nou, the construction of a new Palau Blaugrana and the regeneration of the area around the stadium will now get under way next summer. The Camp Nou's capacity will be boosted and a roof added to cover the whole stadium.

It will still be the world's second-largest football arena behind North Korea's Rungrado May Day Stadium, but the extra 5,646-person capacity will push it from 11th to fourth among all stadiums, past six American college football venues and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"It's a hugely important project and the agreement is great for the club and for the city," Bartomeu told a news conference.

"It's a balanced and integrated project which benefits both the club and the city. It [the Camp Nou area] will become an open space, without barriers, with green zones and urban uses.

"But it will also be compatible with the club's needs -- the Camp Nou revamp and the construction of a new Palau Blaugrana.

"They said we would never see the 'new' Camp Nou, but that will not be the case. Now we can be sure that the Espai Barca project will be a reality."

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, said reaching the agreement had been "a long process, with a lot of the [earlier] proposals not achieving the sufficient balance in order to benefit both the city and the club."

She added that the cost of the project would be taken on by Barca, with no public money being spent.

Bartomeu told supporters the project would finance itself, with naming rights for the stadium being sold to the highest bidder to ensure the club does not fall behind in the transfer market.

"The Espai Barca has its own economic independence," the president said.

"It will be financed by naming rights and other types of investment. It will not interfere with the management of the club. We can still make signings."

The Palau Blaugrana, meanwhile, will be a large multifunctional arena with a capacity of 12,000 where, among the club's other teams, their basketball side will play home matches.

An an ice rink and the FCBEscola, which will consist of renovated facilities and two football pitches, are also part of the project.

Away from Camp Nou, work has begun on the Johan Cruyff Stadium, located at the club's training ground.

The structure is expected to be ready early in 2019 and will be home to the club's B team -- who currently play at the Mini Estadi -- and the women's team.