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Fiorentina questions Mercafir stadium proposal

Italian Serie A football club Fiorentina has put forward multiple concerns over the proposed site for a new stadium, stating that if cost and timing issues are not addressed its willingness to pursue the project will “quickly fade”.

Fiorentina has issued a statement on the proposed Mercafir project after local authorities last week made tender documents for the site public. In November, Florence city council approved a plan for the development of land targeted for the new stadium.

The Mercafir area, a food and beverage market in north-eastern Florence, has been pinpointed for the stadium, with the proposal seeing the land divided in two. The stadium would occupy the southern part of the land, with a new market being developed in the north.

The proposal, put forward by Councillor for Urban Planning Cecilia Del Re, was adopted with 22 votes in favour, seven against and three abstentions. However, opposition was raised at the meeting, chiefly from those concerned that options for Fiorentina’s current home, Stadio Artemio Franchi, had not been properly considered.

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso last month expressed his disappointment over the lack of progress being made on a new stadium. The deadline to make offers for the land at Mercafir expires on April 7 and Fiorentina yesterday (Tuesday) said it is “in the process” of determining its next steps.

The club added in its statement: “While we appreciate the fact that a public tender for the land has been issued, we nevertheless have relevant concerns related to many of the details in the tender documents.

“In addition to the €22m (£18.5m/$24m) price for the land, which we have communicated from the beginning as being too high in our view, there are a number of other direct costs that Fiorentina must incur that makes the overall price for the Mercafir site prohibitively expensive.

“Moreover, there are other open-ended risks associated with the tender.  On top of our concerns is the fact that there are no guarantees that the seller of the land will deliver to Fiorentina a property that is free and clear of any issues and in a timely fashion.

“Our announced commitment in October 2019 to proceed with the Mercafir option was conditioned on a four-year timeframe to complete the construction of the stadium by September 2023.  We are now looking at an eight-month delay in that schedule already at this early stage, while there are no measures in place to ensure that further delays don’t occur in the future, despite the good intentions of the Administration.

“Our desire is to actively cooperate with the Mayor (Dario Nardella) and the Administration of Florence to give to Fiorentina and its fans a new, beautiful and comfortable stadium. However, while we evaluate our decision of whether to participate in the tender, we must say, humbly but clearly, that if this process does not happen in a timely fashion and at reasonable costs, our willingness to pursue the Mercafir project will quickly fade.

“In the meantime, we will continue to entertain other opportunities available to us, including not building a new stadium at all.”

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.