Dario Nardella, the Mayor of Florence, has reiterated the Municipality’s commitment to the Stadio Artemio Franchi stating that an international competition will soon be launched to find a partner to conduct “one of the most important restyling interventions” in the world.
Nardella was speaking after Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso slammed a ruling from Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT) that states the Franchi cannot be demolished or undergo a major redevelopment due to its historic status.
The decision marked the latest blow to the Serie A football club’s long-held ambitions to either redevelop the Franchi or move to a new stadium elsewhere in Tuscany. MiBACT ruled that while redevelopment of the Franchi will be permitted, this will be limited to aspects such as installing a roof and bringing the stands closer to the pitch.
The Franchi is owned by the Municipality of Florence and in response to MiBACT’s ruling, Fiorentina said the onus was now on the authorities to deliver improvements, adding that for the club the Stadio Franchi project is “closed”.
In response, Nardella said his office will take on the Franchi project, stating that there is still the ability to deliver a revamped stadium that meets modern standards. “From today onwards we will work hard to bring to the city of Florence a stadium that matches sporting ambitions,” said Nardella, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
“In the ministerial (MiBACT) decree there are some openings that can be exploited: the first concerns the interventions that serve to adapt the stadium to UEFA regulations; the second point, which we will exploit, is the possibility of creating commercial areas. Then there is the possibility to create new stands and cover the stadium.
“For the first time there are official acts where we are told what can and what cannot be done at the Franchi. We take note of Fiorentina’s decision not to invest in the stadium, at this point we will do it alone. The stadium is owned by the Municipality of Florence, and we cannot afford not to honour the history of the city and for this stadium to be abandoned.”
Indeed, Nardella explained that a two-phase process has already begun to improve the Franchi. The first phase is set to run from February to September, with €1m (£891,000/$1.21m) invested to address structural issues. The following year will see €7m spent on seismic improvements.
Nardella continued: “The second phase is the actual restyling, for which we have decided to open an international competition, of the highest level, which will allow us to give the city of Florence a result of the highest quality. We want to carry out one of the most important restyling interventions in the world. The competition will be presented this year.”
The Mayor added: “We want to be sure that the most effective and most innovative project can win, we aim to create a new Franchi, keeping its history and at the same time building a modern and innovative, ecological stadium. We want to get the assignment by 2023 so work can be started by the end of my term.
“There will be no burden on the budget of the Municipality of Florence and of the citizens, we will look for lenders. Our goal is to find a zero-interest loan, and already I have made contact with the European Investment Bank, the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the Istituto per il Credito Sportivo.”