FC Barcelona unveiled plans for a new-look Camp Nou at the weekend with club president Joan Laporta promising the stadium will be a "world reference point".
The stadium's 50th anniversary was marked by a ceremony on Saturday before Frank Rijkaard's team defeated Sevilla FC 2-1. The plans will signify the third major upgrade of an arena that was first opened on 24 September 1957, to replace the old Les Courts Stadium. The new-look Camp Nou will boast a dramatic Antoni Gaudí-inspired façade and is being devised by English architect Sir Norman Foster.
"It's a personal project," said Foster, who also designed the new Wembley Stadium. "I have based this on three inspirations: football, the city of Barcelona and Catalonia, and Barça. The stadium will have ten extra levels, using a cable structure which will protect spectators from the wind and rain but it will be flexible to allow sunlight on to the pitch."
The original Camp Nou boasted a 93,000 capacity but was expanded to 115,000 with the addition of a third tier in 1981 in preparation for the 1982 FIFA World Cup finals. The stadium was redeveloped again in 1994 in line with UEFA regulations to remove fencing while lowering the pitch by two and a half metres to allow for extra seating. It reopened with a capacity of 98,000.
Minor work has been done since to add an underground car park, new dressing rooms and executive boxes. Joan Laporta and his board have now decided it is time for a complete face-lift, the most dramatic feature of which will be the spectacular exterior, with blue, yellow and red panels coating the stadium, while capacity will rise again to 104,000.
The club will sell their Mini Estadi ground to help meet the €300m refurbishment costs with the project set to start in 2009 and finish in 2012. Laporta said: "The Camp Nou will be an architectural world reference point. The new design respects the original and ties in with Catalan tradition and from a football point of view, it'll be a pressure cooker for visitors."
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