Mayor again holds key as Roma strive to get stadium plan across the line
Italian soccer's Roma are hopeful they will soon be able to start work on a delayed new stadium, but there is as yet “no agreement” for the construction of the venue, according to Rome mayor Virginia Raggi.
The club was encouraged by what was described as a positive meeting with city officials this week to discuss a revised proposal for the Stadio della Roma in the Tor di Valle neighbourhood in the south-west of the Italian capital.
Earlier this month, the city council refused to grant planning permission for the project, while saying that it could reconsider if a scaled-down plan is presented, and Roma have complied with this request.
However, Raggi told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper today: “There is no agreement. We’re working to see if we can find a middle ground. We’re doing our best to harmonise our vision with the project.”
Raggi’s election last year put paid to Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, as she refused to support the campaign, claiming that hosting the event would be “irresponsible” and leave the city indebted.
Her party, the Five Star Movement, is opposed to the Roma stadium plan, which has also come in for criticism from environmentalists.
Roma first presented their proposal, which calls for a business park and a ground with a capacity of 52,500 that can be increased to 60,000 for major matches on the site of the former Hippodrome horse racing venue, in March 2014, envisaging that it could be completed in time for the 2016-17 season.
The club has been frustrated by various bureaucratic hold-ups, but its general manager Mauro Baldissoni remains optimistic, saying on Tuesday: “We've always said we want to build this stadium together with the city. We've tried to understand the needs of the city council and I think we've done so."
Roma presently share the 70,000-capacity Stadio Olimpico with local rivals Lazio, but the venue is regarded as outdated by modern standards, and both clubs have explored new stadium options in recent years.
Lazio received a financial boost last week as kit supplier Macron extended its kit deal with the club by five years until the end of the 2021-22 season.
The agreement with the Italian company is worth a basic €16 million over five years, and could be worth as much as €20 million, or even €25 million, if bonuses and royalties are activated.
The initial deal with Macron, which came into effect in 2012, was worth €10 million over five years.