Barcelona and its satellite towns have to be the number one location in Europe to feed a stadium addiction. In addition to the major attractions such as the Camp Nou, Estadi Olimpic and the Estadi Cornellá-El Prat, there are countless smaller stadiums dotted throughout the suburbs. Of course, an added bonus of visiting Barcelona’s “Big Three” stadiums is the addition of a smaller stadium next door. You will no doubt be aware that the Mini Estadi is but a drop-kick away from the Camp Nou, and you may have heard of the Camp de Foixarda, some 500m from the Olympic Stadium on Montjuic. The latest addition to the list is UE Cornellá’s Nou Camp Municipal, which stands in the shadow of Espanyol’s multi-million-euro home.
Before we cast our eyes over their new stadium, let me give you a potted history of the resident club. Unió Esportiva Cornellà was founded in 1951 following the merger of Fútbol Club Cornellà, Atlètic Padró and Acadèmia Junyent. For the next 45 years, the club kicked its heels in the lower reaches of the Catalan regional leagues, never playing above the sixth tier of the national pyramid. UE Cornellá finally reached the Regional Preferente in 1996, earning promotion to the Tercera three years later. That first season in the Tercera saw the club finish fourth and enter the play-offs, and whilst the club earned a creditable third place finish, it was not enough to earn promotion. Over the next decade, UE Cornellá could not match the success of that initial season, returning to the Regional Preferente on two occasions. Results improved following their promotion back to the Tercera in 2008, with the club reaching the play-offs for a second time in 2013. They lost to Deportivo La Coruña’s B team in the first knockout stage, but undeterred, UE Cornella secured its first Tercera title in May 2014. They then went on to win promotion to Segunda B with victory over CD Izarra in the play-offs.
Prior to their move to the new stadium, UE Cornellá played matches at the Municipal de la Vía Férrea. Suited around 750m north of their current home, Via Férrea now plays host to the club’s successful football school, a system that has seen Jordi Alba come through its ranks. The only spectator accommodation is a single Tribuna on the northern side of the enclosure, which stands uptight to the railway lines from which the ground takes its name. A simple cantilevered cover is bolted to the back wall and hangs over five rows of seats and a rear viewing gallery. The stand has a capacity of 1000. On the southern side of the ground is the club’s football school, a smart semi-circular building which runs from the west corner to the halfway line. The western end has a small area of hard standing, whilst a grass terrace occupies the eastern end. The First XI played their final match at Vía Férrea on 13 May 2012, beating Pobla de Mafumet by a goal to nil.
On 26 August 2012, UE Cornellá played host to FC Santboià in the first official match at the Nou Camp Municipal. Midfielder Luis had the honour of scoring the first goal at the new stadium, as the hosts romped to a 4-0 victory. The new stadium was built at a cost of €7m and stands less than 20m from the western edge of Espanyol’s Estadi Cornellá-El Prat. It is a single-stand enclosure, with the only tribuna seating 1500 over six rows of green seats. The cover is just over 80 metres long and features a propped cantilevered roof, with the space behind the props housing offices, bars & catering facilities. This ensures that that all the seating and the rear balcony have an unimpeded view of the playing area. A latest generation artificial surface has been installed (a de rigueur requirement for the majority of new small stadium builds) along with 2 Fútbol 7 pitches.
All very practical, tidy and financially sensible, but it doesn’t get the pulse racing like its sexier and more buxom neighbour. However, there is a sense of home, emphasised by the fact that the new stadium practically overlaps the site of the old Estadi Les Aigües, UE Cornella’s home before they moved to Vía Férrea.