Barcelona sell Camp Nou title to raise money to fight virus

The 99,000-seater Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe. (Files/ AP)
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Updated 22 April 2020

Barcelona sell Camp Nou title to raise money to fight virus

BARCELONA: Barcelona will sell the title rights to their storied stadium for one year in an effort to raise money for the fight against the coronavirus.
The Spanish club’s executive board said Tuesday it will donate the entire fee raised by selling the title rights to the Camp Nou to fighting the global pandemic.
The Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe with more than 99,000 seats. It has never had a sponsor since it opened in 1957.
“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,” club vice president Jordi Cardoner told 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 planned to wait to sell the stadium’s title rights for the first time in the 2023-24 season. At that time, the club hopes to bring in €300 million ($326 million) paid up front for a 25-year contract to pay for renovations to the stadium and other facilities.
Cardoner, who has recovered after contracting the virus, said the board conceived of this new charity sale independent of the long-term deal of 25 years. But, he said that if there emerges a sponsor who wanted to include it in the long-term deal, then the club would consider it.
Cardoner said Barcelona want to listen to offers from companies and private foundations and will consider opening it up to a group of interested sponsors who could team up and hopefully provide even more funds to help battle the new virus.
He would not give any estimate on how much the foundation hopes to earn from this “one-shot” sale. But given the greatness of Lionel Messi and the millions of spectators who tune in each week to watch Barcelona’s games, Camp Nou is one of the most coveted venues in sports.
“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.”
The stadium will maintain the name “Camp Nou” in addition to including the sponsor, the club said.
Barcelona’s foundation for social charities, which is overseen by Cardoner, will manage the investment of the money in fighting the virus. The foundation runs programs in Spain and in 58 other countries, largely focused on at-risk youth and refugees.
The club said it hopes to close a deal “in the coming weeks.” The decision will then have to be approved by a general assembly of club members, which number 140,000, likely to be held in October, if conditions permit.
How the money is used will be determined by the club’s foundation and the sponsor, with each party proposing how to distribute half of the funds, Cardoner said. Barcelona said they want s to propose using part of the money in Spain, especially in Catalonia, and in countries where the club has current charities. Cardoner said specific projects have not been chosen, but he would like some money to go to helping the elderly, especially in the devastated nursing home sector.
Cardoner said that he took some inspiration from the club’s decision in 2006 to put UNICEF on its shirt, which had never carried a sponsor before. The club moved the UNICEF logo to the back of the shirt in 2011 and sold the front to a corporate sponsor. It has continued to donate €2 million ($2.14 million) to UNICEF annually.
The main impetus, however, hit Cardoner while he was confined to his bed waging his own fight against an infection from the virus. He never needed hospitalization and fully recovered after a couple of weeks, but he said that the experience prompted him to “think big.”
“I spent a long time in bed and had time to think,” he said. “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.”


The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

Updated 34 min 25 sec ago

The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

LeBron James believed he could win every time he advanced to the NBA Finals.
A couple occasions, he realistically had little chance. His first and last appearances in Cleveland ended in sweeps, overmatched Cavaliers teams routed by San Antonio in 2007 and Golden State in 2018.
In his 10th NBA Finals, he sees his first opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers the same way he viewed his trips in Cleveland and Miami.
“The game is won between the four lines, not won on paper,” James said. “At the end of the day, when I’ve lost in the finals, the better team won because they played well, they were more prepared and they did what they needed to do to win those four games.”
This time, that’s going to be his team.
With Anthony Davis alongside James, the Lakers are armed with the same type of firepower they had when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led them to the first of three straight titles 20 years ago.
The two first-team selections to the All-NBA team have combined for 60 or more points 20 times in their first season together, and the Lakers have won 19.
They are now set up to win the Lakers’ first title in a decade.
“Now we want to make sure that we finish this thing off right,” Davis said.
James shows almost no drop-off at 35, tying his career high with four triple-doubles in these playoffs. He is averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists, numbers no player has ever reached through his first 15 games of a postseason.
Davis has been just as dominant, right about at his career postseason average of 29.6 points that trails only Michael Jordan (33.4) and Allen Iverson (29.7) among players who have appeared in at least 25 games.
The Heat, with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler anchoring a strong defense, might be able to take one of them away. Nobody is stopping both.
The Lakers’ role players give them plenty of support, from playoff-tested veterans Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Danny Green, to newcomers such as Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. Los Angeles is shooting 49.8% as a team, tops in the postseason.
The Lakers are also limiting teams to 106.5 points, third-lowest in the playoffs, and the Heat might be the least explosive squad they will have faced. Portland had Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Houston followed with NBA scoring leader James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and Denver boasted Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the top two players in total points in the playoffs.
Los Angeles knocked all three teams out in five games.
Once they did, thoughts turned to the proper way to cap off what’s been a challenging season for the Lakers. A preseason trip to China turned turbulent following Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting democratic protesters in Hong Kong. Bryant, a franchise icon, was killed in a helicopter crash in January. The coronavirus pandemic halted the season and forced players to be away from their families for months when it resumed.
Four more wins and the Lakers can go home to them.
“Every day since we been in the bubble it’s been like, man, this is a great opportunity. Take full advantage of it and stay in the moment,” Howard said. “You know, even after we won the Western Conference finals, I wanted to be like, all right, this is not the goal just to win the Western Conference finals. The goal is the win the championship.”
They will. Lakers in five.
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Brian Mahoney is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at bmahoney(at)ap.org