A New Stadium for Milan: Promises, Promises

When Berlusconi appointed his daughter, Barbara as co-CEO of Milan, One of her projects was to build a new stadium. However, after wasting a ton of money in architectural plans, permits, and more and getting the first approval for the second or third location and entire stadium project, in 2015, Papa Silvio said he was too in love with the San Siro and scrapped all plans to build. Or move the club forward, or build any kind of financial stability. Fast forward to 2017, when Yonghong Li infamously bought the club, and said that he, too would build a new stadium. But he couldn't even pay his debts, let alone build a stadium. As with everything else in his short-lived ownership (and his bank accounts,) it was just an empty promise.

The "Cathedral" design by Populous could light up differently for either club

When Elliott Management took over the club in 2018, they, too said that a new stadium was one of their highest priorities. They initially wanted it to be done by next year, but that is definitely not happening. However, they have worked tirelessly and tenaciously since day one, and have given no signs of letting up. They chose two projects from two competing architectural firms for a state of the art 60,000 seat stadium and re-development project, and have taken input from fans and others as to which stadium to build. A decision on which one is expected by the end of this year.

The club has also worked closely with Inter to plan for the financial backing, seek necessary approvals, and more to make this a jointly-owned stadium. However, with the recent financial issues with Suning, Inter, and owner Zhang, Milan have reportedly said that they would still like to build the stadium on their own, if necessary. Inter's financial instability was another excuse that Sala used in March of this year to delay his decision, which was probably fair to the city, but not for AC Milan.

The "Rings" design by Sportium maintains and allows fans to play on the actual San Siro pitch

The mayor of Milano needs to sign off on the project as the next step. Giuseppe Sala, as a typical politician, pushed the decision forward until "after the elections." After being re-elected last week, however, he is again dragging his feet. Part of the issue is his city council, made up of 12 people. He claims the final decision is his, but some of the people involved are still very much opposed. Rather than do what desperately needs to be done for both clubs, and which could also help the city host the opening ceremonies of the 2026 Milan-Cortina d'Ampezza Winter Olympics, amongst other things, he is weighing his political options before giving his answer.

The biggest stalling point is the San Siro. It is such a magical stadium, so unique, and so rich in history. It is beloved throughout the world, and a symbol of Milano. While every possibility for restructuring and modernizing the stadium for safety, accessibility, and other reasons has been explored for years now, all of the studies show that it is time to let it go. The structural integrity became an issue a couple of years back when sections had to be closed due to excessive shaking during matches. Even with reinforcements, it will not last forever.

Potentially the worst breakup ever, but some goodbyes are necessary

This current argument has been going on for a couple of years now, with the initial new stadium plans calling for a full demolition of the San Siro. A compromise was re-submitted by both firms involving saving part of the iconic stadium and incorporating it within their projects. But now that Sala has been re-elected, voices are being raised again, and he is again prolonging making the decision. You would think that a club owned by a vulture fund, who is used to wielding its power by seizing anything and everything it wants (including AC Milan,) would be able to get this done. However, Elliott Management may have met its match in Italian politics and red tape. 

Milan President Paolo Scaroni said in September that he hoped the stadium would be completed by 2024 or 2025, if there are all green lights from here on out. Given that there has been exactly one new stadium constructed in all of Serie A since the stadiums that were built for the 1990 World Cup over 30 years ago, that's a very big "if." 

Remember this stadium project? Just another pipe dream of club sustainability

Both clubs have apparently found financing for the €1.2 billion cost to build the stadium and development area. The reports that Milan could build on their own include rumors of other investors ready to come in to back the project, if necessary. However, perhaps it is also the money that is making Sala hold back on the project. Currently, Milan and Inter only get up to €40 million in revenue annually from ticket sales, which is owned by the city of Milano and rented by both clubs. The projected income from a new club-owned stadium is €120 million per year for each club, which would certainly help them compete with the bigger clubs in Europe. But the project will also create many new jobs and revenue for the city, as well.

Once again, there is another buzz about the new stadium, this time due to the election and the promises of Mayor Sala. At each stage of the process, this happens, and then it never happens. While it is difficult to imagine our team playing at any other stadium than the beloved and sacred San Siro, Milan need to take the next step in order to have a future. Serie A needs us to take the next step in order to have a future. Unfortunately, that future is being held up by the nostalgia, self-interest, and empty promises of politicians. So I will believe in a new stadium when I can actually see it.

This post inspired by the music of Naked Eyes' "Promises, Promises"

Our next match will be 
Serie A Week 8
AC Milan vs. Hellas Verona
Saturday, October 16 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

A New Stadium for Milan: Promises, Promises A New Stadium for Milan: Promises, Promises Reviewed by Elaine on 12:47 AM Rating: 5
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