Barcelona Reportedly Considering Leaving Camp Nou for New GroundDecember 10, 2013
Barcelona may possess the era-defining talent of Lionel Messi and one of the globe's most recognised young prospects in Neymar, but it seems the Catalan giants want a new stadium to house them in.
As reported by Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail, Barca officials have confirmed plans to either extend the Camp Nou or build an original arena from scratch:
Barcelona have confirmed plans to build the third largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 105,000.
Spokesman Toni Freixa said on Monday that the club would hold a referendum next year on whether the new ground would be an extensive remodelling of the existing Camp Nou or a built-from-new ground on a site close to the city.
In its current form, the Camp Nou is the focal point within an institutionalised area of the city, a mini-village that encompasses all things FCB. The pitch sits beneath ground level, ensuring plenty of height could be added to the setup if needed.
Although one of the largest stages in world football already, plans to extend the capacity of 99,354 by a further 5,000 seats would see the Camp Nou trail only to the Rungrado May Day Stadium (North Korea, 150,000) and Salt Lake Stadium (India, 120,000) as the world's third largest.
Any potential extension of capacity represents a risk for the Spanish champions. The economic crisis has ensured dwindling La Liga attendances over the last couple of years, as fans find it far more sustainable to stay inside and watch the action on television than shell out for matchday tickets.
As noted by Dave Redshaw of Football Espana, even Barcelona have been hit hard in this area in recent times, with over 41,000 seats spare during their 2012-13 La Liga encounter with Real Sociedad.
La Blaugrana's plans may come in reaction to rumours linking Real Madrid with a Santiago Bernabeu expansion, a deal that could be sponsored by Microsoft, according to an alternate report from Jenson of the Daily Mail.
Although Microsoft Spain president Maria Garana recently denied the company's interest in putting their name on Madrid's home, per Marca, it wouldn't be surprising for Florentino Perez's side to try to outshine the capacity of their nearest rivals with a stadium increase or new facility.
Both clubs must think carefully before opting to move away from their current residencies. These famous footballing theatres are both steeped in history and synonymous with their clubs' images, suggesting it would be disappointing for many fans to lose such iconic locations.