New Roman Soccer Stadium Hopes to be ‘A Modern Colosseum’

Three-time Serie A champion Roma plans to build a new privately financed stadium inspired by the Colosseum on the outskirts of the Italian capital. With plans to open in two years, the facility, labeled “Stadio della Roma” until naming rights are awarded, will seat 52,500 spectators and be able to expand to 60,000 for major matches.

Building costs for the stadium itself are estimated at $414 million, but the overall price, including surrounding infrastructure and transport, will run far higher. The new stadium will be in the Tor di Valle area in the city’s southwest, about halfway between downtown and Fiumicino Airport.

Slated to open for the 2016-17 season, the stadium has been a big ‘goal’ since Roma was purchased by a four-man group of Boston executives. In 2011, they became the first foreign majority owners of a Serie A club.

For years, Roma has shared the Stadio Olimpico with city rival Lazio but that stadium features a running track and poor sightlines for football.

“The Stadio Olimpico has been a great place for us to play but it has clearly had its time,” Roma president James Pallotta said. “The new stadium is clearly going to give us a competitive advantage.”

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino sat next to Pallotta at the recent City Hall presentation and supported the project, although he warned the stadium would not open until the necessary surrounding infrastructure was in place.

“Hopefully we will have an expedited process and a two-year construction plan,” Pallotta said. “I want to see Francesco Totti be the first person to run out on that pitch.”

The stadium is being designed by architect Dan Meis, who has drawn up the plans for numerous stadiums and arenas in the United States.

“It’s impossible designing a building here without considering the architectural history in Rome,” Meis said. “The stadium will have an outer wall that will be a new vision of the Colosseum.”

The project for the new stadium includes facilities for music and entertainment, including a 500-person stage in a Roma-themed Restaurant, a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater and a 13,000-seat amphitheater within the stadium. The new space will also be home to shops, bars and conference facilities. It will be purpose-built for football, the fans seated as close as possible to the pitch and a three-tiered seating design with a sharp incline. There will also be luxury boxes, plus commercial areas and training grounds outside the stadium.

Financing will come from naming rights, sponsors and priority seating proceeds, while bank loans and equity will finance construction.

If the project becomes reality, Roma will become only the second major Italian club to own its own stadium. Juventus, which is closing in on its third successive title, opened Juventus Stadium in 2011.

“It is extremely important that the project provides a safe and secure year-round sports, entertainment, shopping and dining experience for the people and visitors of Rome,” said Pallotta. “For a stadium development to be truly successful today, it must become part of the everyday fabric of people’s lives.”

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