Is Italy preparing for a stadium overhaul?
With public finances a mess and so many proposed stadiums rejected, it is no wonder that many believe Italy are incapable of regenerating her football arenas. However, after the recent success of the Juventus Arena and the new Stadium Law, the new projects may soon become a reality.
Juventus have been the trail-blazers in the Peninsula, building a superb state of the art stadium without breaking the bank. This also was off the back of the Calciopoli scandal and this smart move has now catapulted the club to one of the top teams in Italy. With high attendances generating big profit from ticket sales along with the extra match day revenue the ‘Old Lady’ has also proved that she is wise.
Clubs in Italy can now hope to be bolstered by the new Stadium Law that is soon to come into play. This is a piece of legislation that has been in place for two years but has yet to be finalised. Now the current government are hoping to get the law passed before the Stadium Business Summit that will take place in Turin in May. This summit will in turn hope to show the world what Italy’s intentions and clear cut plans will be in relation to this matter.
The Stadium Law itself hopes to give the private sector the chance to develop these new Stadia as they work alongside the local authorities. This will mirror the government’s plan that they have for the rest of the country although much will depend on the cooperation of the regional authorities. The description given of this law that will generate this boom in Stadia construction has been called a ‘PPP Finance model’.
Italian clubs all around the peninsula are now ready to start implementing the plans that have been festering in their archives for years. No better example that clubs believe that it is the time to act could be found this week than in the actions of Cagliari President Massimo Cellino. He decided to pull out a revolutionary plan against his local authorities this week due to the fact he was so unhappy with the lack of renovation work on Stadio Sant’Elia. He has also been frustrated with the lack of progress over the years on his new stadium proposal. Therefore Cellino decided to have the weekend's match against Inter moved to Trieste 1,133km away.
This echoed recent comments made by Ugo Cappellacci, president of Sardinia’s regional authority, who said that Cagliari’s recent game against Cesena was: “an exciting show in a desolate arena” and that it was “inadequate for the needs of the team, fans and Sardinia.” Despite support from the Mayor, Cellino thought that after his recent plan to build near the airport had been blocked, drastic action was needed.
Catania are another club who have had problems with their stadium although this has mainly been the result of violence. Nonetheless in an attempt to create a better environment for football to be watched, Nino Pulvirenti, President of the club has suggested a 30-35,000 capacity venue to be erected at a cost of 80-100 million Euros. This new arena would contain space for municipal offices which are thought to be of interest to the local authorities.
Roma look like they maybe the next team to put their stadium plans into action and break from sharing their home with Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. This does however depend on the actions of the local authorities and whether they invest in updating the facilities (as they are doing at the Giuseppe Meazza in 2015). If so the Giallorossi may stay put, but if not then the US backed Romans will look to build a 50,000 all seater on land outside Rome.
Plans are afoot too in Naples although this project may take longer than some of the others proposed. The overriding positive however, is that it already has the backing of Mayor Luigi de Magistris who has promised that they will have a new stadium on either the Scampia or Ponticelli districts. Failing this he has promised to revamp the Sao Paolo which is an extremely popular idea. Should the stadium be built from scratch then the design will be sent out for tender.
In Genoa they are going one step further, suggesting that a new multi-sport arena will be constructed. This will have facilities for both basketball and volleyball as well as the two football teams. This would be part of a new district that would be dedicated to sport. Plans were unveiled at a recent CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) conference.
There are also plans to update the Giuseppe Meazza’s facilities by May 2015, whilst Milan have toyed with the idea of moving to a new home. Atalanta have plans for an ambitious renovation of their ground as have Udinese. Bologna too have concrete plans ready to rejuvenate the Dall’Ara stadium whilst Cesena also would like to explore the idea of a new stadium. Finally Fiorentina would like to build a new ground near the city's airport but as yet no there has been no confirmation or plans submitted.
Italy will bid to host the finals of UEFA’s Euro 2020 tournament although the plan is not to rely on this, as they have experienced defeat in these bids before. Instead the country is soon to take responsibility for its own football infrastructure for the first time since 1990. The last time the stadiums were built for this World Cup the world was in awe. Should the Turin stadium business summit be successful, then the Italy may again look on its stadia with pride.