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Joan Laporta outlined the importance of continuing with the Espai Barça project in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1. The FC Barcelona president explained that "it is vital for the Club's viability" to have a new Camp Nou, new Palau and Campus Barça as soon as possible.
"When the project is presented, I think the members will be proud. Espai Barça can have the same impact on the city that the Barcelona Olympic Games had in its time. We will become a reference point in the world of leisure, with a futuristic, modern and sustainable stadium," said the president in the interview on the programme 'El Món a RAC1' where he also touched on the current sporting situation at the Club.
In addition, Laporta set out that Espai Barça "has to be understood as a new way to create income," making it clear that "our main rivals have already done this job whilst we are yet to do our homework."
Approval by the Assembly, the first step
However, before that, the members have to approve the financial plan for this Espai Barça project in the upcoming Assembly of Representatives. Laporta explained that the Club wants to request 1.5 billion euros of credit that will be repaid from the income generated by the development of Espai Barça: "The way to finance the project is that once it is built and starts to generate income, the Club will retain a small part of that income and when that limit is reached, the rest will repay the credit. If the project works then repayment will start soon." Goldman Sachs are aware of the Espai Barça project and is one of the institutions that could provide the 1.5 billion euros, yet Laporta also said that there are conversations with other investors.
Espai Barça has to be understood as a new way to create income“ Joan Laporta
Whoever finances the project, the preside made it clear that "Barça will be in charge" and the Club will be the one making the decisions. First, however, the members' representatives will have to approve the financial plan which is point four on the agenda for the Assembly on 17 October.
A year at the Estadi Johan Cruyff?
Pending approval, Joan Laporta believes a start on work in the summer of 2022 is viable. "They say the work would take three years, perhaps maybe four," he admitted. In all that it is likely that the first team will have to play away from Camp Nou for a season, whilst during the rest of the time the work on the stadium can go ahead concurrently with Barça home games. But where would Barça play for a year away from Camp Nou?
Joan Laporta said that he would be excited for FC Barcelona to play there home games at the Estadi Johan Cruyff. "It is being looked at, extending the Estadi Johan Cruyff's capacity to 40,000 or 50,000 spectators. They says it is possible and the most difficult part would be the effect on mobility and parking, but architecturally it could be done," explained the president. In such a case, with a capacity below that of Camp Nou, members would have to rotate attendance as all season ticket holders could not attend all matches. Laporta did not discount the option of playing at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuic for a season.
A stadium with room for 110,000 fans
About the work on the stadium, Laporta revealed that there will be changes to the original Espai Barça project presented years previously. "The project has become obsolete and we have made changes to the volumes. It has become more flexible. I got goosebumps when they presented it to me," he admitted. He went to reveal more details: "The third tier will be completely redone, perhaps the first as well. There will be room for 110,000 spectators, more boxes, VIP areas and hospitality."
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