Barcelona approves debt plan for stadium renovation

LaLiga - FC Barcelona v Elche
Soccer Football - LaLiga - FC Barcelona v Elche - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - December 18, 2021 General view inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Spanish soccer club Barcelona in a referendum on Sunday night approved new financial plans including an additional 1.5 billion euros that will enable the club to renovate its iconic but languishing Camp Nou stadium and its surroundings.

Goldman Sachs, which had agreed to lend 595 million euros to help restructure the club's debt in August, will finance the stadium revamp under a 35-year plan, including an initial five-year grace period.

The plan won 87.8% backing from 48,623 participants, some 44.2% of the club's total members.

They voted in favour of raising additional funds to a debt plan for financing a wide-ranging project known as ‘Espai Barça’ that was initially planned in 2014.

The club's debts total 1.35 billion euros, 673 million of which is owed to banks.

The priority is stadium renovations aimed at having the new Camp Nou ready by the end of 2025 with work starting next year to expand capacity to 105,000, making it Europe's largest stadium.

Barcelona President Joan Laporta said the club expects to generate 200 million euros of additional revenue annually with the new stadium thanks to sponsorship and naming rights, ticketing, catering, VIP boxes, hospitality, meetings and events.

The project will also involve updating the club's infrastructure such as offices and the Palau Blaugrana, a multi-sports venue that has faced multiple fines for not meeting European competition requirements for basketball games.

The new Palau Blaugrana should be completed in 2026 and the ‘Campus Barça’ offices and hotel by 2027.

Reporting by Fernando Kallas; editing by Jason Neely

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