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Features

Venice gives green light to ‘Bosco dello Sport’ venture

Venice City Council has approved investment of €283.5m (£237.8m/$306.8m) in a project that will be underpinned by a sports complex featuring a new 16,000-seat stadium for Serie A football club Venezia, plus a 10,000-seat arena.

The Municipality of Venice last month unveiled plans for a €333.8m (£278.4m/$367.5m) investment scheme. The funding will be distributed for ventures across the local region, with its driving force being the ‘Bosco dello Sport’ project.

Bosco dello Sport will be built in Tessera and along with the stadium and arena (pictured), will include the completion of a road network linking up Ca’ Tessera Venice Airport, internal urbanisation, landscape works and an educational area.

The vision is for a multi-functional complex, active seven days a week and capable of guaranteeing economic and financial sustainability. This part of the overall scheme will be granted €93.5m of funding from Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), plus €189.9m from the Municipality itself.

A previously envisioned scheme has been revised with particular focus placed on its setting within a green area of almost 79 hectares, a large ecological and sustainable structure, the Municipality said, in which sports facilities will “rise in the middle of wooded areas”. The project is intended for completion by 2026, with a view to its facilities being utilised for that year’s Milan-Cortina Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Bosco dello Sport was the subject of a City Council meeting yesterday (Thursday), with opinion split between those backing its transformative potential for Venice as a city and others who claim that in the current climate other priorities, such as investment in housing, cheaper energy sources, transport and public services, should prevail.

Ultimately, Bosco dello Sport was approved with 21 votes in favour and 12 against. It will now form part of the ‘Quadrante di Tessera’ vision to create “a large multifunctional compendium of metropolitan level and also of international interest, dedicated to professional and amateur sport, education, health and socio-cultural entertainment”.

The project caused much debate at yesterday’s Council meeting. “Three hundred million (euros) cannot be used in this way,” said Councilor Giovanni Andrea Martini, according to the Venezia Today website. “The project must be stopped, a different project idea is needed for a real transition.”

Alessandro Baglioni, director of the dem group, added: “It is such a critical period for Venice and the PNRR is a unique opportunity to counter the effects of the pandemic with structural interventions. The sports facility is not the solution to the problems of the city.”

Other critics supported the project in general, but questioned its reliance on public funding. Councillor Cecilia Tonon said: “I support and appreciate the project. Even more so with the 80 hectares of forest, but I don’t see why a public-private partnership has been excluded, using the unconstrained surplus of the municipal budget for other purposes.

“Let’s not forget that the Penzo stadium, due to its historical, traditional and emotional value, will always remain central to Venice. What is the point of creating a competing stadium?”

Venezia currently plays at the Stadio Pierluigi Penzo, which opened in 1913 and is notable through its primary means of access being by boat. Upgrades to the Penzo were made for the club’s return to Serie A this season.

Councillor Matteo Senno added: “The opposition now wants private individuals but in the past they have denied the construction of the stadium in Zamparini.

“The structures we have are not suitable. (Stadio Francesco) Baracca cannot even host Serie C matches, the Taliercio (arena) cannot host the (basketball) Euroleague, the Penzo had the authorisation for Serie A only thanks to a race against the clock by Venezia FC in harmony with the administration. And then we must consider the jobs created, direct and indirect, in a project that goes hand in hand with investments for amateur sport.”

Image: Municipality of Venice