Barcelona’s decision to sell naming rights of the redeveloped Camp Nou has the full support of club members, according to the man heading up the project.
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Barca are planning to increase the capacity of their stadium to 106,000 with work expected to be completed in 2021.
The much-anticipated redevelopment, which was approved in a referendum by Barca’s socios (club members) last April, will cost 600 million euros.
Selling the naming rights of the stadium is expected to generate a third of that cost, with Barca set to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Arsenal (Emirates Stadium), Manchester City (Etihad Stadium) and Bayern Munich (Allianz Arena), all of whom benefit from a major title sponsor.
There have been some murmurings of discontent about the decision from fans reluctant to say goodbye to the iconic Camp Nou name, but William T Mannarelli – project manager of the Espai Barcelona development – insists Barca’s socios understand why it is necessary.
“Barca were very transparent about the whole issue of naming rights,” Mannarelli told Sport360 at the Future Sporting Infrastructure Summit in Dubai. “Obviously the question of sponsors has become a bit of an issue with the shirt deal with Qatar Airways.
“But there were individual surveys with socios on the issues around the new stadium. Interestingly, the No. 1 priority for the socios was a) ‘how much will my season ticket cost?’ and b) ‘Don’t mess with my seat’. Naming rights was completely at the other end of the spectrum of priorities.
Barcelona now value Camp Nou (sur)naming rights at 250M for 10-15 years. Initial valuation was 200M. Money used for stadium reform. [md]
— barcastuff (@barcastuff) September 9, 2015
“We thought the fans would go crazy about naming rights but even passionate Catalonians understand. The socios of Barca pay 25 percent of what they do at Real Madrid, or Manchester City. Their season ticket to watch this show is insanely good value.
“If you want that to continue, if you want to compete for the Champions League, if you want to keep watching players like Messi, Neymar and Suarez – the money has to come from somewhere.”
Qatar Airways has been strongly linked with the ‘Nou Camp Nou’ naming rights after signing a four-year shirt deal with Barca in June, but Mannarelli expects the Catalans to carefully assess the options first.
“As long as the club can identify a partner whose agenda is aligned with Barcelona and their ‘mas que un club‘ philosophy, things will be fine,” Mannarelli said. “If a sponsor has different objectives, then yes of course it would become an issue. But ultimately the club will decide.”