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City Council of Milan votes to allow AC Milan and Inter to build a new stadium

The City Council of Milan has voted to allow both Milan and Inter to build a new stadium. However, there is a catch (sixteen of them in fact). Chief among them being that they will not be allowed to raze the San Siro in order to build their shiny, new, football cathedral, and will have to find a way to work not only around the stadium as it stands, but all of the sentiment attached to it as well.

Artist’s rendition of the new stadium
AC Milan

Ladies and Gentleman: We’ve Got Our Stadium

Or at least, the approval for it. Earlier today, the City Council of Milan voted unanimously to approve allowing Milan and Inter to go forward with their joint project, with 27 voting in favor of the new stadium, while 11 voted against and seven abstained. And while this is a monumental achievement, the celebrations become dampened once you realize that there’s a whole lot of strings that will be attached to this project (sixteen of them, in fact), and how both teams untangle themselves from this incoherent mesh, will perhaps be their biggest challenge.

The First String Attached:

The first, and perhaps biggest stipulation, is that the Old San Siro must remain intact. “Il Meazza non va abbattuto [The Meazza must not be torn down]”, was the council’s decree. This perhaps creates a structural headache for both Inter and Milan, as they’ll now have to find a way to build around the hallowed (and deteriorating) structure.

It also puts the city of Milan in a predicament too, as they’ll now have to figure out what the heck they’re going to do with that stadium once the two teams vacate it. La Repubblica has printed a few of the council’s many ideas (including using the Old San Siro for the games of the women), but time will tell if these ideas can be implemented, and more importantly, if they’re practical or not.

‘The club project, as it stands, is not acceptable.’

So said the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala. While he was the first to point out that he voted in favor of the project (in order to reinforce how oh-so-progressive he is), he is also the one who called the project ‘unacceptable’. The crux of his grievance (shared by a few others as well), is that the project’s dimensions are ‘too large’. Meaning? Both Milan teams will have to scale back the size of the project, in order to make sure that they don’t have to scale back the size of their ambitions as well.

Among the many concerns put forth by the council, is how to lessen the environmental impact of the new stadium and the renovation of the area surrounding it. In addition to this, they want an increase in ‘green spaces’ that will be made available to the public (and will tie into the environmental impact of the said initiative); the guarantee of economic and financial stability (including the creation of jobs), and most importantly, potentially reducing the size of the overall project. As it stands, the proposal exceeds the amount of space that had previously been allotted in the Piano di Governo del Territorio set forth by the city (by 0.18, or 0.63 to the city’s projected index of 0.35, to be precise). The two firms who are competing for the right to bring forth this ambitious venture (Manica and Populous, respectively), won’t have all the space they want to work with, which means that they’ll just have to learn to work within the limitations the city has imposed upon them, and hope it doesn’t stifle all of their creativity in the process.

However, the mayor is also a realist, and acknowledges that this might not be to both Milan teams’ liking. In his words, it’s ‘good’ to have a Plan B. And both Milan and Inter have seriously considered reverting back to theirs, which is to build their desired stadium in the Sesto San Giovanni district (that also conveniently lies just outside of the city council’s boundaries), and most importantly, where they won’t be limited by all of the restrictions of the said council as well.

Both are interesting scenarios, but only one of them will prevail in the end. And whatever both Milan teams do eventually decide upon, let’s just hope that it will in fact, be the right decision that will ultimately benefit all of us.

As frustrating as the conditions imposed by the city council might be, there is encouragement to be found in the midst of all this. The fact that the governing body voted yes to begin with is an encouraging sign, as they realize all of the benefits a new stadium would bring to the city (including economic revitalization). The new stadium will also bring benefits to the rest of Italy as well, as giving the green light to this proposal means the country is finally modernizing their stadium infrastructure, and working on one of the few things that has unfortunately been used as a slight against Serie A, and made the league less attractive to foreign viewers. The proposed Milan stadium will be a part of a domino effect of new stadiums around the country, and will potentially lead to a renaissance of the country’s football.

(And I know, I know, using renaissance as a noun in a sentence related to Italy is overused and clichéd but in my defense, I am writing this immediately after I got off an eight hour shift, and I’m too tired to think of anything else.)

(But anyways ―)

Now we’re there, and we’ve only just begun

Whatever the case might be, let’s just hope that a new stadium will be built in the end.

Whether the new stadium will be next to the Old San Siro (provided that those sixteen strings don’t become stifling nooses, of course), or in the previously mentioned Sesto San Giovanni, let’s just hope that this project will be realized, and that this dream will become an actual reality. It is integral to not only the teams of Milan and Inter that the stadium be built, but also, to the City of Milan as well. After all, if Milan wants to be seen as a ‘modern’ city, then it will have to let its two most prominent teams modernize, and bring them into the 21st century.