Roma’s stadium won’t be built in a day
Rome is a complicated city; every mayor seems to fail at the job and Romans swing from extreme pride to complete criticism. The main city’s football team stadium project is no stranger to this.
Roma’s president James Pallotta wants to create a stadium for its team, who currently shares the state-owned Olympic Stadium with Lazio. He stated that all the money spent on the project will come from private funds, as well as the billion euros that will be put in the extension of one metro line. Along with the stadium the plan included three skyscrapers, restaurants and shops that would have created 12.000 new jobs (prioritising local Roman citizens).
So what’s not to like?
One of the main arguments against it concerns the area chosen for the project, Tor Di Valle, where there is (or more appropriately was) a hippodrome. Some claimed this area has an architectural and cultural value, but Roma’s Facebook page posted a video shot by a drone of the disastrous situation of this territory.
Rome’s ex urban planning chief was strongly against the plan, calling it an “eco-monster”. His opinion is supported by some art critics who believe this would ruin the city’s skyline. It should be considered that this infrastructure will be nowhere visibly near important historic landmarks. The stadium’s architect will be Dan Meis, the same who designed facilities such as the Seattle Seahawks stadium and the Lakers’ Staple Centre and the three skyscrapers project would have been handled by the famous Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the new World Trade Centre after 9/11.
Vittorio Sgarbi, an art critic famous for his blunt statements said that he will continue fighting against this project and declared that “if they don’t change their mind I will call Isis and ask them to put bombs in the skyscrapers and everything will be solved.”
The stadium will also give a new experience to the team’s supporters, who are used to seeing the games from quite a distance due to the all-weather running track in the Olympic Stadium that won’t be in the new one.
Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi and her populist party Five Star Movement, is split on the matter. Even if those against it mostly aim to a reexamination of the area, do that they won’t operate and build on that many hectares. The party has already withdrawn Rome’s nomination for the 2024 Olympics, so denying this project would send a clear message.
The final agreement with the city council was on March 3rd and its outcome can be considered a loss for international investors in Italy, but not for AS Roma supporters who will have their stadium anyway. Half of the ground of the original plan was cut and they eventually settled for shorter buildings instead of skyscrapers.
This drastic change has brought the American investors to change their mind on some of the public works that they were going to fund. Most of them included roads, a bridge and the transports needed to get there. This also is why those who were previously in favour are now reluctant to accept the changes considering the weight they had on the project itself.
The land they were going to build on has been reduced by 50%, with 60% less in the business park (the area not related to the stadium itself).
In a time of crisis for Europe and Italy, we should ask ourselves if pride is worth more than innovation. When this is not undermining the country’s own investors, we should be welcoming and supportive of those who would want to invest and help the economy.