Fans’ experience Espai Barça project pivot



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Alex Barbany at Coliseum Europe 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Alex Barbany Fernández knows the inside out of the ambitious Espai Barça project – a development which will bring about a 360 degree change to the home of the LaLiga team FC Barcelona – one of the most celebrated football clubs in the world – the Spotify Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain.

Fernández has enough reasons to know the intricate details of the above project as he is calling the shots of the same in his role as the Executive Director of Espai Barça, FC Barcelona, Spain.

Alex Barbany Fernández joined FC Barcelona in March 2021 in the capacity of Chief Revenue Officer. He led the team that brought the Spotify partnership deal to life in 2022. Presently, he is the Executive Director of the Espai Barça project of FC Barcelona. He is responsible for delivering the business plan around the commercial operations of the renovated stadium.

Alex Barbany Fernández provides a deep insight into the majestic Espai Barça project presently underway and holds up in an exclusive to ‘Coliseum’ the comprehensive picture of the greater redevelopment of Spotify Camp Nou whose ultimate focus is to provide an exhilarating experience to Gen Z and sharpen the tech teeth of the venue and its ancillary facilities.
 

FC Barcelona

Futbol Club Barcelona, commonly referred to as Barcelona and colloquially known as Barça, is a professional football club based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, that competes in LaLiga, the top flight of Spanish football. It is the third-most valuable sports team in the world, worth $5.51 billion, and the world’s fourth richest football club in terms of revenue. The club has won a record number of trophies.
 

Spotify Camp Nou

The world-famous Camp Nou, branded as Spotify Camp Nou for sponsorship reasons, is the home of the LaLiga club FC Barcelona since its completion in 1957. With a current seating capacity of 99,354, it is the stadium with the largest capacity in Spain and Europe, and the third largest football stadium in the world. It is indeed the ‘Cathedral of Football’.
 

Espai Barça

The Espai Barça project is a large-scale infrastructure redevelopment project to improve (and expand) all of FC Barcelona’s infrastructure including their training facilities, the Spotify Camp Nou Stadium, the Palau Blaugrana, the club’s offices as well as the commercial and leisure facilities.
 

Palau Blaugrana

Palau Blaugrana is an arena in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, belonging to FC Barcelona. The 7,585 seating capacity arena is home to the basketball, handball, roller hockey, and futsal divisions of FC Barcelona. Palau Blaugrana is located in the same complex that houses the Spotify Camp Nou Stadium.
 

Accidental Developer

Alex Barbany Fernández started off by stating, “The Espai Barça is an once-in-a-lifetime project for both our club and our City (Barcelona).”

As he helms the project, he termed himself as an “accidental developer” which one becomes while dealing with “this kind of real estate development projects and a big chunk of my time is devoted to striking a balance between mitigating the risks of the accidental developers while also enjoying at the very same time the beauty of the two sides of the same coin”.

Providing a brief background of FC Barcelona, he informed, “Our club was founded way back in 1899. In 1957, the club moved to Camp Nou (at that point of time). So, we have been in our current home for the last 66 years now. We are going to stay put in Spotify Camp Nou and right now arguably the biggest transformational project of the club’s residence is underway.”

He added that the Espai Barça project “pretty much tick all the boxes that a real estate developer would be looking for in terms of the location of Spotify Camp Nou as the spiffy hotels are a stone’s throw away from the stadium, the central business district (CBD) is also a shouting distance away, an affluent neighborhood, a streamlined transportation network, and the most important part the Brand Barça.”

Fernández observed that flexibility matters much in a real estate development project and this is what the presently underway Espai Barça project boasts.
 

New Camp Nou Project Plan

He termed the Espai Barça project as the “next great sports and entertainment destination at the heart of a global City”.

It is spread over 18 hectares of land, 3,40,000 of buildable area of which nearly two-thirds of it are going to be taken by the stadium and the remaining 1,15,000 square meters of buildable area will be devoted to other uses.
 

Price Tag

The Espai Barça project price tag stands at roughly 1.5 billion and in the expenditure pie chart “the renovation of the stadium will take up a huge chunk of money close to between 900 and one billion and the rest on the ancillary use facilities. The returns on it are going to come through the incremental revenues the entire project is going to generate.”

The Spotify Camp Nou is undoubtedly swarmed by visitors as he provides, “Today, we have close to two million visitors per year coming to the iconic venue which equates to roughly 13 percent penetration rate of the total tourist traffic in the City which helps to keep our cash registers jingling.”
 

Project Pillars

The community on which the Spotify Camp Nou sits, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and putting forward the best hospitality foot forward forms the crux of the Espai Barça project.

Averred Fernández, “FC Barcelona has an unrivaled emotional connect with its fans but what we are lacking in is the efficiency to optimize and monetize that emotional connect with the fans. Our endeavor would be to monetize that huge footfall.”
 

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

Environmental, social, and corporate governance, also known as environmental, social, and governance (ESG), is a set of aspects considered when investing in companies that recommends taking environmental issues, social issues and corporate governance issues into account.
 

Construction Details

He spelt out the construction details of the project, “We are going to keep Tier One and Tier Two, renovate them but retain the pristine form and the upper tier is the one which is going to be completely demolished. The whole of the first tier including the roof to the right hand side of the arena is going to be torn down by the end of 2023. We are creating a whole new structure – 360 all around the building – which is going to be retained.”

Barça will be back at Spotify Camp Nou by the end of 2024 and “we are aiming for a final full completion of the whole structure by June 2026”.

The top-notch club will play the forthcoming LaLiga seasons (which is all set to start from August 12th, 2023 and will last until May 26th, 2024) at the 55,926-capacity Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, a stadium in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
 

Tech Bells and Whistles

Fernández admitted that FC Barcelona had “a lot of catching up to do” when it comes to the club and the Spotify Camp Nou boasting tech prowess -“We need to catch up in terms of our digital footprint. We are way behind on this and this project is probably the greatest platform to catapult the club’s digital growth trajectory.”

Barça is pulling out all stops to put its best hospitality foot forward once their refurbished home will be up and running and in this regard “we are trying to take pages out of the books of chic hotels and theme parks and will replicate them in the new-look Spotify Camp Nou”.
 

The ‘Wow’ Experience

Fernández asserted that sustainability, hospitality and innovation are all “important pieces in the successful running of a venue but at the end of the day everything boils down to the ‘wow’ experience of fans and going by the behavior of the present crop of fans they are ready to loosen their purse strings to savor that enthralling experience in a venue. So, our pivot on this project is to enhance the fan experience whether they are sitting in the bowl or in any other space of the stadium.”
 

Sum-up

Alex Barbany Fernández wrapped up by stating, “A spruced-up Spotify Camp Nou will be the best legacy that Generation Z will inherit from us (FC Barcelona has a fanatic fan following all over the world) and at the end of the day all these stadium projects are all about providing the best-of-breed facilities to the fans who play a key role in keeping the revenue mills of the venues running smoothly.”

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