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Football fans watching FC Barcelona in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League this season may be wondering why Xavi's Spanish champions are not playing at their iconic Camp Nou ground and where the Blaugrana's temporary home is.
Barcelona are playing away from Camp Nou while the historic stadium undergoes a major £1.3bn renovation to add a roof and bring it up to modern standards.
The work, which is expected to last until at least 2025, will see the ground's already mind-bogglingly large capacity extended to an incredible 105,000. But while the rebuild continues, Barça will play down the road at an arena made famous in the 1990s.
Why are Barcelona not playing at the Camp Nou?
The temporary home of FC Barcelona is the Barcelona Olympic Stadium, which goes by several names, including the official title: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys. More on that name later.
The ground sits at the top of Montjuïc (meaning ‘Jewish Hill' and the apparent birth place of the city of Barcelona) with incredible views across the seaside city.
How big is the capacity of Barcelona Olympic Stadium, Estadi Olímpic?
During the 1992 Olympic Games, a crowd of more than 67,000 could fit into the Montjuïc stadium, but the capacuty is now 54,367. Although that might be a huge, 40,000 decrease on Camp Nou, that does make it the sixth largest stadium in Spain.
History of the Barcelona Olympic Stadium – FC Barcelona's temporary home
Estadi de Montjuïc was constructed in 1927 in preparation for Barcelona's International Exposition two years later. It was in 1929, then, that the stadium hosted its first event: Spain's first official international rugby fixture, against Italy, which they won 9-0.
Hopes then mounted that the ground could lead the bid for Barcelona to host the 1936 Olympic Games, but the political situation in Spain at the time – the country being on the verge of civil war – made this impossible.
This was a major setback for the stadium's future. Though it hosted significant sporting events in the following years – including a major boxing match in 1935 and the 1955 II Mediterranean Games – it wasn't until 1989 that the arena was prepared for its most historic period to date.
After failure in 1936, Barcelona finally hosted the Olympics in 1992 and Estadi de Montjuïc soon became Estadi Olímpic. A full renovation followed, directed by Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti, who removed almost everything from the ground while retaining the original facades.
In 1989, the newly renovated stadium hosted the Athletics' World Cup and three years' later, the opening and closing ceremonies and full athletics schedule at the successful Olympic games.
Since, it has hosted high-profile rugby league fixtures, the European Athletics Championships and the 2004 Copa del Rey final between Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza. Several huge music gigs have also occurred, including Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and AC/DC.
Crucially, the stadium also acted as the home of FC Barelona's local rivals, RCD Espanyol, between 1997 and 2009. It was, then, the obvious candidate to be Barcelona's temporary home during the Camp Nou's renovation.
As for the name, the stadium got a new one in 2001 when ‘Lluis Companys' was added on to the end of Estadi Olímpic. Companys was the president of the Generalitat de Catalunya who was executed at the nearby Montjuïc Castle in 1940.
For how long are Barcelona playing away from Camp Nou?
The Camp Nou redevelopments are expected to be completed by the 2025/26 season, meaning FCB could be playing at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium on Montjuic hill for several years.
Most stadium redevelopments in modern football have gone well beyond their original deadlines, including at Barcelona's historic rivals Real Madrid, and so fans of the Blaugurana shouldn't get their hopes up too much.
So many factors can cause delays in a stadium redevelopment. For example, Real Madrid have faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and due to disruption in the construction industry caused by Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war in Eastern Europe.
However, Barcelona – like Real Madrid – are expected to return to Camp Nou before the redevelopment is fully completed. So fans can hope to be back in their traditional home for the 2024/25 season, though capacity will be operating at 50%, so around 50,000.
How to get to the Barcelona Olympic Stadium
The easiest way to get to Barcelona's temporary home on a matchday is to take the free shuttle bus – which comes every four minutes – put on by the club from Plaça d'Espanya. It's a long walk up the hill, so this is a good option.
You can find more detailed information from FC Barcelona here.