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Progress Is Being Made On The ‘New’ San Siro, Albeit Slowly

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 29, 2021

Whisper it quietly, but progress is finally being made on Inter and Milan’s new stadium.

The pair have been pushing for the last several years to build a new arena on the site of the current Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, one of Europe’s grandest football stadiums. A new project was revealed in the summer of 2019 between the two clubs, and the hope was that the process would be a lot efficient than had been the case with Roma’s attempt to construct one in Rome throughout the last decade.

And yet just like Roma’s ultimately futile attempt, the Milanese duo were also obstructed by one thing after another: infamous Italian bureaucracy; the pandemic; Inter’s financial woes and political grandstanding.

The general elections in Italy also meant progress was halted for the better part of five months, as the clubs didn’t know who they were going to be dealing with come October. Current mayor, Giuseppe Sala, had dealt with the clubs on the stadium issue for the last couple of years. Sala stood for re-election and won a second term as mayor.

His victory has allowed the clubs to reboot their discussions over the stadium. With both clubs struggling financially, even before the pandemic, time is very much of the essence to get the project off the ground, and bricks built into it as soon as possible.

San Siro, as it’s known due to the area in which is located, is one of, if not the, most iconic stadium in European football. It’s towering circular columns and red girder along the top of the stadium can be seen right across the city, and has become synonymous with the city of Milan.

Yet aside from the romantic aspects of the stadium: the players who have graced the turf, the legendary goals scored in both ends, the experience of going to San Siro isn’t the 21st century idea of what going to a sporting event is supposed to feel like. The seats are hard, sitting in the upper third tier can induce vertigo, and the general structure of the stadium is a little down-at-heel.

More importantly for Milan and Inter, it simply doesn’t generate the kind of stadium revenue that clubs of heavyweight stature demand. Inter, who usually produce the more revenue of the two sides from San Siro, earned €51m ($59m) in the last full season with crowds in 2018-19.

Juventus, who’ve opened their own stadium in 2011, but with a reduced capacity of just 41,000 seats, earned a whopping €65m ($75m) in that last full campaign with fans.

Milan and Inter currently have double the seats, but don’t get close to the sort of money Juve earns. This is what is driving their need to build a new structure.

Both clubs believe that a new 60,000 seater arena, with 12.5k premium seats, could generate matchday revenue of anywhere north of €80m ($92m) per-season, each.

That’s a massive leap.

In light of Sala’s second term, the clubs reconvened this week to speed up the process. Milan president Paolo Scaroni was optimistic that city approval could be achieved by the end of the year, with building work started towards the autumn of 2022.

However there are previsions that need to be met by the clubs. The first, and one of the biggest sticking points, is the volume of space both sides are seeking. The clubs initially demanded a figure of 0.63, with the stadium also including shops and extra commercial outlets. A compromise was then reached with the city council, with a decrease to 0.51. However it’s thought that this may drop again to around 0.35, as per the government’s request.

“The mayor agrees that a new stadium is needed to ensure that the two Milanese teams stop selling their jewels like [Romelu] Lukaku and [Gianluigi] Donnarumma,” said Scaroni this week. “We need a stadium that increases our income and that improves the matches as events.”

Parts of the Giuseppe Meazza will also be kept – another demand of the council – and renovated into an entertainment and sporting facility. The clubs are preparing to spend some €1.2bn ($1.3bn) on the new stadium.

The aim was for the stadium to be ready by 2024, but a more realistic option is now 2027. With Milan hosting the 2026 winter Olympics, San Siro will host one final major competition, and by then, the hope will be that the ‘New’ San Siro is close to completion, and giving the two giants of Italian football a 21st century-worthy arena.

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