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Volume 6 No. 213


Barcelona decided during a board of directors meeting on Monday to renovate Camp Nou stadium instead of build a new venue at a different site. Barcelona President Sandro Rosell said, "The final cost [of a new stadium] could well mortgage the club's future." The proposed renovation of Camp Nou will be voted on by Barcelona members at a referendum on April 5 or 6. The club decided to renovate the existing stadium in a project including a proposal for a new Palau Blaugrana basketball arena and development of the land called Espai Barça. The Camp Nou remodeling would increase the stadium's capacity from 98,787 to 105,000 -- all under cover. To do so, a new, more vertical first level with better visibility will be constructed, while the second level will stay the same and the third level will be completed. These changes will involve moving about 10% of season-ticket holders. VIP seating will increase by 3,500 to 5,700 (FC Barcelona).

PROJECT TO COST $813.7M: The EFE reported Barcelona's entire project -- including its plans for the Palau Blaugrana and the Espai Barça -- will cost €600M ($813.7M). Barcelona's 20 board members "made the decision unanimously, and following the meeting, they ruled out a new stadium in a different location because of the estimated cost of that project:" €1.2B ($1.6B). The new project -- "named the New Stadium On Current Structure (ENEA), will be completed in four years, with work to run from May '17-February '21." The stadium renovation's estimated cost is €420M ($570M). FC Barcelona is hoping to raise €200M ($271.2M) using "internal financing," another €200M through a loan and €150M ($203.4M) through a commercial sponsorship of the stadium. Barcelona Economic VP Javier Faus "ruled out the stadium no longer being called the Camp Nou, but opened the door to an agreement for a partial naming rights sponsorship" (EFE, 1/20).    

UAE Pro League Al Ain FC’s new ground, Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, which opens to the public this weekend, has been dubbed the "home of football in the UAE" by its creators, according to Kyle Sinclair of THE NATIONAL. The launch "will be marked by a match between Al Ain and Al Dhafra and a three-day family festival, the Big Kick-Off," which will give fans the chance to explore the 45,000 square-meter facility. To mark the opening of the 25,000-seat stadium, Al Ain "has unveiled a new strip" made by Nike. The club "has also freshened up its logo." The mammoth project, which will also feature apartments, 50 restaurants, retail outlets and a hotel, "is expected to put Al Ain at the forefront of sport in the country." Al Ain Club Investment Company CEO Kareem Nagi Hassan said, "It is more than just a football stadium, we look at it as a historic sports venue in the UAE. It is a game changer. It will be used not just for football but other sports and non-sports events -- those will be announced throughout the year" (THE NATIONAL, 1/20).