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Wednesday June 26 2019
Burning the Cathedral of Calcio

Plans to tear down San Siro are breaking Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall’s heart, as a pilgrimage to the cathedral of calcio is irreplaceable.

May 27, 2007, never for me has San Siro felt like that. Inter lifted the Scudetto after beating Torino 3-0. Still revelling in the incredible goal scored by Douglas Maicon, the party lasted six hours on the Curva Nord from start to finish. That was my idyllic moment, however, it’s only one of so many etched over almost a 15-year period of pilgrimage to Milan’s second Duomo.

These are just my memories, but so many have their own. Even for those who haven’t gazed up at that iconic stadium and only seen it from afar, the news of its potential demolition hurts just as much. This is one of football’s seven wonders of the world, this is the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

News of Milan and Inter’s bid to build a potential new stadium close to the site of the existing one was made official this week. It is first best to address the facts before becoming too melancholy. Both clubs have proposed to spend approximately €700m on a new stadium that will be completed by 2022. La Repubblica reported that ideas to refurbish the current structure were shelved so a modern project that would include a redevelopment of the surrounding area could be put in place.

Since the announcement however, there have been various comments that have led many to assume that this could be a project doomed to be lost in Italian bureaucracy. The Stadio della Roma is only the latest example. Does anyone remember the plans to the Siena stadium with the grass roof?

The simple fact is that Milan and Inter don’t own the stadium, the local authorities do. As with many Italian stadiums, this is the reason that they often do not get refurbished. Why should the local authorities spend the budget on them? Surely only the clubs benefit? The club’s argument is why spend the money developing rented accommodation, especially in the Milanese perspective, as it is shared?

The problematic nature of this relationship between the clubs and the authorities was made even more evident this week when Mayor of Milan Beppe Sala claimed that the ground would certainly not be demolished until 2026, as Milan had won the right to host that year’s Winter Olympic games. The irony in this is that it would need modernising for this purpose, but this is something thought impossible by Milan President Paolo Scaroni, who claimed that this renovation cannot be completed as there is always a home game (perhaps he has forgotten about the summer).

Whether this project goes ahead or not is still to be seen. However, this isn’t really the point for many of the fans. Stadiums mean a lot to any fan of any club, it is where they spend so much time, it is where they take their sons and daughters, it is a modern-day church of a kind. San Siro, however, is more than this. It is a stadium that resonates with so many, simply due to its iconic architecture and because of the games it has hosted.

For many, including myself, the Inter and Milan teams of the late 1980s embody the image of the colossus. Other will fondly remember being mesmerised by the structure as it encapsulated just how far Italian football was ahead of the rest of Europe in 1990. As Francois Oman-Biyik’s header squirmed past Nery Pumpido in the Argentine goal, a million dreams were born under the shade of the beautiful red roof.

Everyone has a memory of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, whether from having an unrewarding season ticket, to watching your team play away there, or even just memories from a game on television that captured your heart. It is a stadium that grabs your imagination, because it has history and an iconic design.

Since 1925, the stadium originally known as Stadio Calcistico San Siro has born witness to countless great events in football. How many Derby Della Madonninas have been played in her walls? Even in 1935, 35,000 saw Inter beat Milan 6-3.

The crowd has seen Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, the Derby of the Lemon, Gianni Rivera, two Milan Derby Champions League ties, European Cup Finals (Inter beat Feyenoord on 1965, then the Dutch won it four years later here), Champions League Finals won by Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, UEFA Cup finals, Italia 90, the Latin Cup and so much more.

There is another article which can and will talk about progress, the need for modernisation and the importance of the Milan clubs maximising revenue. These pieces are all going to make valid economic points and they are likely to be correct.

They may dismiss this admitted nostalgia for the structure as folly and point to the Bayern Munich’s Olympic Stadium, which also held a place in the heart, but is now largely forgotten thanks to the Allianz Arena. Perhaps Benfica’s Stadium of Light will also come up in this conversation. This however feels different.

Whilst it seems inevitable, there is also a hope that the insanity of Italian bureaucracy will once again thwart these plans. There are stadiums like Boca’s La Bombonera that should be untouched, or at least only refurbished.

If football truly is a religion, and to many it is, then it should have to adapt to every century and its challenges. There are, however, things that shouldn’t be desecrated. The enormity of it personally is that it has forced me to write in the first person for the first time I can remember.

San Siro is quite simply part of the fabric of football. Would you put solar panels on Milan’s Duomo or pull it down for a glass skyscraper? Perhaps these are simply the ramblings of a man who has travelled to San Siro, like so many, so many times. Whether half-empty against Brescia in the fog or a fiery cauldron in the Derby Della Madonnina, it still embodies football. I for one will miss it greatly.

Have your say...
Dude,stop making this so full of drama.If you want a Milan's stadium,ask the Americans to start making a serious plan to build the stadium on somewhere else inside city of Milan.Take a look at Juve when they bought Delle Alpi few years ago.Juve boards had mature plans.Like when the site was under construction, Juve were playing in Stadio Olimpico.I wonder, where would Milan play if San Siro were renovated? LOL

Please, ask the American company to stop pretending like they care of this club.
on the 28th June, 2019 at 9:17pm
I was in Milan in March and took a tour of the grounds during a weekday. It is a nice compact stadium in the English style, but the place is a dump.
Some of the spectator seats at the center line were stripped of the covering and revealed nothing but foam padding. Small windows at the stand exits were cracked or broken.
The Scala of Calcio? I have been to the Scala and the lobby outside the box seats was tiled entirely with marble and anchored with a bar at either end.
Fix it or tear it down.
on the 28th June, 2019 at 8:59pm
Soon these milan articles will have 0 comments hahahah it will be just like when one of these ppl write a blog about genoa hahahhah. Anyways ben nobody cares, you just need calciopoli again to feel relevant. Maldini its time for you to stop now hahahah milan is lame and never comin back. Boooooo who cares. Milan needs to do this and milan needs to do that. Shut up and stop writing essays hahahahah haaaaaaa !
on the 28th June, 2019 at 8:38pm
@Giancarlo C's Mom, so insightful! Foreigners and globalization are to blame! Why do you think billionaire Silvio "Make Italy Great Again" Berlusconi had to sell the club? Because business development is excruciating in Italy due to ITALIAN political corruption. I don't think there is another Western European country where clubs don't own their stadiums to such a high degree. Meanwhile, the handful of clubs that do own their stadiums are thriving.
on the 28th June, 2019 at 7:03pm
I think you all are simple minded ppl. That's why it's so easy for you to blame on city councils on this matter. In fact, it's new Milan's owner who plays cheap by abandoning the previous project to build Milan stadium somewhere else on Milan City. Now Milan want to rebuild San Siro because it's cheaper solution. If I were Milanese, I would never agree to allow FOREIGN PPL to have properties on historic sites like San Siro unless my mind has been so corrupted with this globalization agenda.
on the 28th June, 2019 at 9:16am
@CJ

Fandme sjovt du er dansker, det er jeg også :-)
on the 27th June, 2019 at 11:27pm
Shame on the corrupt politicians in Italy =(
on the 27th June, 2019 at 9:23pm
i've watched quite a few games at san siro, all milan :D

All amazing, even a derby, and a juve game. One of the coolest experiences ever though, was Gattuso's first game as coach at San Siro, December 2017, against Bologna. It snowed... So amazing and iconic. a scene from FIFA.
on the 27th June, 2019 at 7:50pm
Wow Maldini's Heir, that's deep. But I agree with you. As an Inter fan for over 20 years, I know more than most about chopping and changing!! Teams need stability and consistency - playing together regularly generates the sort of chemistry that all winning teams have. Unfortunately clubs don't give managers enough patience to build those teams over time, so inevitably the chopping and changing happens in the desperation to win games.
on the 27th June, 2019 at 7:40pm
@Lasse

Im not italian either :) City council own the San Siro area including the stadium and Inter and Milan are paying rent and part of the gate receipts. The City council must give permission to build a new stadium at the San Siro area and probably also elsewhere where they dont own the land. In my country (Denmark) every major construction within the municipality has to be approval by the city council. Guess it is the same here. This means Inter/Milan can easily be taking hostage!
on the 27th June, 2019 at 7:28pm
@CJ

Im not Italian, but is it really legal for the city to say to Clubs

"you are not allowed to use your own Money to buy land and build your own stadium, you must rent the stadium from us"

Or is et becaus the Clubs want the city to help pay ?
on the 27th June, 2019 at 6:03pm
Inter and Milan need a new stadium like a fish needs water. While I love San Siro and its iconic structure, a new modern stadium which allows fans to be closer to the action and allows the clubs to more than double their gate receipts is inevitable. This should have been done a decade ago.

San Siro is iconic because of Inter and Milan. The mayor is being an idiot, if these clubs leave, San Siro will become irrelevant. Politics is holding back Italian football.
on the 27th June, 2019 at 3:53pm
@AP

Wouldn't matter whether Milan won or lost the winter Olympics. Rent and income from gate receipts is the biggest cash cow of the council. If they lost this income they had to find the money to balance their budget elsewhere. Milan and Inter are indeed taking hostage by the city council. The same goes for Napoli and Roma/Lazio.
on the 27th June, 2019 at 1:59pm
It's a shame that every proposed stadium in Italy always gets nocked down by the governing council bureaucracy nonsense due to corruption which is affecting the progress of Italian football ,the teams can't build new arenas with easy.As small as London is in Land size,do you know how many football teams there and they all have their stadia respectively as their personal properties ,giving the clubs millions of pounds as gate tickets. Both teams should have their separate stadia built...
on the 27th June, 2019 at 12:24pm
Italy and corruption go hand in hand unfortunately. Greedy councils refuse to allow their teams to progress. How is it that teams can not own their stadia? How are these teams ever going to progress? Look at Roma. How many years has their stadium application dragged on? Not even broken ground yet! And now Sala says "San Siro will be there in 2026 without question". Would have been better if Milan had not won the winter Olympics bid. Continue to live in the past!
on the 27th June, 2019 at 9:49am
Why these Milanese clubs don't have two separate stadiums?
on the 27th June, 2019 at 6:11am
is more than just a name, more than just a place, more than just a stadium. A team. if Perhaps home is where your team is.
on the 27th June, 2019 at 2:19am
10 attempts at winning the title. Piątek might score 3 goals one season and 30 the next (Shevchenko scored 5 in 02/03 and 24 in 03/04). It happens. Form dips in and out. Nobody really knows why. A player can be MEDIOCRE one day and WORLD CLASS the next. Tiger Woods went from the best golfer in the world to a disaster overnight. But the only way players' will reach their potential is if they stay put. And whether or not we even achieve success we will at least achieve an identity. Something that
on the 27th June, 2019 at 2:17am
Barring Bonucci's sabbatical to Milan for one season the BBC combo have been together for 8 years. None of them are great defenders (compared to the greats of the past) but they've played together for so long that they can finish each other's sentences. And they give a sense of identity. It all starts from there, from that foundation. Milan have that potential. Donna, Romagnoli and Caldara could be together for 10 years. Cutrone and Piątek the same. If they play together for 10 years that's 10
on the 27th June, 2019 at 2:14am
a woman man and I want my players to be one club players. Maybe I was spoilt with the likes of Baresi, Maldini and Tassotti. But I want those days back. I don't care if a player is not WORLD CLASS. I'd prefer to have a group of MEDIOCRE players who stay with the club rather than this constant chopping and changing. And like I've said you can win titles with mediocrity. Juve have. Sure they've got some WORLD CLASS players now but it has been a slow process of adding one or two at a time. The core
on the 27th June, 2019 at 2:09am
the now. Sure the San Siro holds special memories for me in games I have attended and in events that have occurred there. Not living in Italy I have only ever managed to get to a few games. The stadium was always special. But I am not that concerned about moving. We need to move to modernise. But I am very concerned with the player turnover. I cannot go from hating Bonucci to loving Bonucci to hating him again in the space of less than 12 months. That's like some messed up love affair. I'm a one
on the 27th June, 2019 at 2:05am
One thing I've been struggling a lot with in recent years is to try and define what it is that makes a football club. Is it a name? Do I just support any team that is called AC Milan?Is it a place? Do I support any team that is from Milan? Why not Inter? (Ok because they're horrible) Is it a stadium (which is shared with Inter)? Is it the players? It's the players that I watch week in/week out. Sure there's history associated with the name, the place and the stadium but it's the players who are
on the 27th June, 2019 at 2:02am
I thought local govt bureaucracy was mainly an African and Eastern European problem. I see Italy has joined these ranks. Why is it is difficult to put up a stadium? It must be coz of corrupt leaders who want their beaks to be wetted.
on the 26th June, 2019 at 9:56pm
Boston, USA is glad they kept outdated-yet-classic Fenway Park for baseball. The oldest (and maybe ugliest) MLB stadium in the US, it's now a popular tourist spot year-round. The Red Sox are the 19th most valuable club in all world sports, won 4 titles since 2004, and made enough money to buy Liverpool FC. You don't need to spend $1B on a new stadium to be world class.
on the 26th June, 2019 at 7:29pm
The author was searching for comparables, citing Bayern's old Olympic Stadium or Benfica. The only real comparable was the old Wembley. It was torn down and the new Wembley is just as amazing, if not more. The 1935 the structure did not look anything like what is there now. I'll miss this San Siro for sure, having gone 7 times and living in the USA, but it's time for the future. There was a time before San Siro, there will be a time after. Let's build a new stadium and to ensure new memories!
on the 26th June, 2019 at 7:25pm
I've been to some Juve away matches there back when they opened the entire curva to the away support. Juve fans would pack in 20,000 strong.
on the 26th June, 2019 at 6:46pm
What a hypocritic talk. Day long you talked about modern football. Now Two biggest club out of love will not separate from their stadia instead taken second best idea to their commerce. And you writing such stuffs.. SHAMBLIC.
on the 26th June, 2019 at 2:28pm
2/2
City councils own the stadium - demands part of the gate receipts - but do not want to pay for refurbishment! Furthermore, they are the ones giving acceptance to build a new stadium and in Milano the greed-master-Mayor Sala wants to own a stadium which Milan and Inter have paid to build!? City Councils are limiting italian football big time.
on the 26th June, 2019 at 12:15pm
Unfortunately professional football is all about money now a days and money beats nostalgic. Billionaires buying clubs and driving transfer prices in general to the extreme. In order to compete in modern football the clubs has to find more and more revenue - one of them is to get more gate receipts. Milan and Inter (and many other italian teams) are limited by the greed of the city councils. 1/2
on the 26th June, 2019 at 12:11pm
Hard to believe that San Siro could potentially be no more. One of the most legendary football stadiums in the world. Both Inter and Milan need a new ground to kick on but it is a heart braking thought.
on the 26th June, 2019 at 11:22am

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