Fiorentina chief hits out at Italian stadium project red tape

Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso has bemoaned the bureaucracy stifling progress in his aim to build a new stadium for the Italian Serie A football club and reiterated his goal of opening a new facility in four years’ time.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Commisso, who only took the reins in the summer, was outspoken in his desire to work quickly on building a new training ground and stadium for the Florence club.

After his initial plan to overhaul the existing Stadio Artemio Franchi was rejected by local planners though, he is now awaiting approval for a new stadium project near the local airport.

Commisso said that stadium projects take “too long” in Italy and there are “too many bureaucracies, [and] too many different wings of the government that have to impose themselves in the decision-making process, which is screwing Italy left and right”.

Commisso, an Italian-American cable-TV magnate, also owns the New York Cosmos National Premier Soccer League club in the US. He recently purchased private land in the outskirts of the city for more than €50m with a view to building what he hopes will be the best and biggest training centre in Serie A.

“This ‘fast, fast, fast’ that I’ve been quoted on revolves around the fact that I know the bureaucracy in Italy and I know that it’s killing Italy from an investment perspective,” Commisso said.

“We need to do this as fast as possible. One, because of my age. And two, because I’m not going to wait 10 years.

“I already told (the city), ‘If the price is not right and the timing is not correct, I don’t want to do it.”

Commisso added that he is sticking to his goal, outlined last month, of building the training centre in two years and then completing the stadium project two years after that. 

The training ground, spread over 60 acres in Bagno a Ripoli, will feature 10 fields, facilities for the club’s youth teams and a 2,500-seat stadium that could be expanded to hold 5,000 spectators.

“It’s going to be the first time in the history of Fiorentina, which goes back to 1926, that Fiorentina will have something of its own, that it can call its own property,” said Commisso, who added that further details about the training ground project would be revealed next week.

Fiorentina has played at the Stadio Artemio Franchi since it opened in 1931 and there has been talk of a new ground for nearly a decade.

In October, the Municipality of Florence approved a proposal to make a plot of land available for the potential development of a new stadium, with Commisso hailing the news as an “important step forward”.

The Municipality opted to put part of the Mercafir area, a food and beverage market in north-eastern Florence, up for sale with a view to the site being purchased for the development of what would be a privately-financed stadium.

Image: KevArchie