Milan clubs unveil rival projects for new San Siro stadium

AFP , Thursday 26 Sep 2019

The San Siro
The San Siro is home to AC Milan and Inter Milan who have won ten Champions League titles between them (Photo: AFP)

An oval stadium with interlocked rings or a 'cathedral' to football inspired by Milan's Duomo, the two short-listed projects for a new 1.2 billion euro ($1.34 billion) San Siro Stadium were officially unveiled by the city's two rival clubs on Thursday.

AC Milan and Inter Milan -- who share the iconic stadium to the west of the city -- want to knock down the San Siro and build a new 60,000-capacity home adjacent to the old stadium which makes way for an area "dedicated to sports, entertainment, and shopping".

"Italian football needs to face the fact that for the past 20 years it has been moving back and not forwards," AC Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis said at the unveiling.

"We talk about the pride and heritage of San Siro and believe me, it's an icon for me.

"But all around the world the best leagues, the best clubs are built on solid foundations and the best thing is a world class stadium."

Both clubs are former European giants with AC Milan having won the Champions League seven times and Inter were the last Italian team to win the European title, when they lifted the trophy for the third time in 2010.

Neither have lifted the Serie A title since AC Milan triumphed in 2011.

City authorities are divided on the project, with Milan Mayor Guiseppe Sala insisting he wants to renovate the existing stadium so that it could celebrate its centenary in 2026 by hosting the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics that year.

Nevertheless the two Milan clubs have gone ahead and shortlisted two projects -- 'The Cathedral' by US architecture group 'Populous' and 'Rings of Milan' by Italo-American firm Manica-Cmr Sportium.

Architect David Manica said his firm's interlocked 'Rings' project symbolised the story of how the two clubs, forever in opposition, and now united in the project for a new stadium.

The Manica project would include 10 hectares of gardens around the new district, with the pitch of the old San Siro stadium conserved as part of a large piazza for festivals.

Populous's monumental glass facade 'Cathedral' project draws inspiration from two of Milan's most iconic buildings -- the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele -- and would be surrounded by 22 acres of green space.

"We've seen the power of sports stadium to regenerate an area like in London," said Populous's Cristopher Lee, who said his firm had designed 1,300 stadiums worldwide including the London Olympic stadium, and new Arsenal and Tottenham grounds in London.

Lee said that spectators would be just 10 metres from the pitch which would generate "an incredible atmosphere and wall of people".

Both projects are eco-friendly and play on the changing colours on match nights -- blue when Inter Milan play and red for AC Milan.

The new stadium would be no higher than 30 metres, less than half the 68 metres of the current San Siro.

- October 10 deadline -

The plans will now be presented to the municipality who will give its response by October 10 on whether to renovate or go ahead with the project to rebuild.

The clubs calculate that to renovate would cost around 510 million euro, against 650 million for a new stadium.

"The San Siro is no longer suitable for two large clubs who want to play a world class role, full stop," said AC Milan chief executive Paolo Scaroni.

"We love the San Siro very much but it is high time for a change. It's a sort of desert in the middle of nowhere.

"We have to build something new and a neighbourhood that can be used 365 days a year and not only on match days."

Alessandro Antonello, chief executive of Chinese-owned Inter Milan, said the project would take 36 months from approval to delivery -- "in good time to be ready for Olympics."

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