One of the most famous arenas in world football will soon be known under another name after Barcelona announced that they will sell naming rights for their iconic stadium to raise money to aid the battle against COVID-19.
The Spanish side’s executive board said on Tuesday that it will donate the entire fee for what will be a one-year deal with an as-yet-unnamed brand to temporarily rename the 99,000 capacity stadium.
It will be the first time since the stadium’s opening on 1957 that it will have a sponsor.
“We want to send a universal message: For the first time someone will have the opportunity to put their name on Camp Nou and the revenues will go to all of humanity, not just Barca,” the club’s vice president, Jordi Cardoner, said to The Associated Press.
“The initiative arose in an emergency situation. We think that we have to have a very quick response, putting our crown jewel at the service (of the fight).”
The club had been planning to sell stadium naming rights ahead of 2023-24 season to raise funds of around €300 million ($326 million) for a 25-year deal to help pay for the upkeep of the more than 60-year-old arena.
Cardoner, who had contracted the coronavirus and has since recovered, will appraise offers from companies and private foundations and also said he is open to a bid from a consortium should their combined sum be the highest.
He didn’t quote a direct sum but the Camp Nou is known for being one of the most famous stadiums in world sports and is expected to command a hefty sponsorship figure.
“Camp Nou is sending out an S.O.S.,” Cardoner said. “We are open to everything. We want to maximize the economic participation and to ensure that the partners share our same social values.”
A deal, he says, is expected in the coming weeks but must first be approved by a general assembly of club members.
As for where the money will go, Cardoner, who is the head of Barcelona’s foundation for social charities, says part of the money will be used in Catalonia and while the specific programs have not yet been chosen he says he intends to make sure it is available to the elderly.
Barcelona has made several charitable gestures over the years. They famously allowed UNICEF to display their logo on Barca shirts in 2006 despite the club never having had a sponsor before.
“I spent a long time in bed and had time to think,” Cardoner explained further. “We do a lot through our foundation, and it occurred to me that we had to think big, think big like we did with the shirt and UNICEF.”
Spain has been among the most affected countries in the world during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 20,000 deaths to date. Barcelona and surrounding areas have been particularly hard hit.