Cagliari’s new stadium to bear name of club legend Riva

Featured image credit: Sportium

Cagliari City Council has unanimously approved a motion presented by Mayor Paolo Truzzu that the new home of Serie B football team Cagliari be named after club, and Italian national team legend, Gigi Riva.

The proposal put forward by Truzzu received the backing of all 29 voters, with Riva now set to be the face of the venue that had gone under the working title of Cagliari Arena. The idea was put to the vote after Truzzu first sought approval from Riva, who is now 78.

Following the opening season of his professional career, which he spent with Legnano, Riva remained a one-club man, scoring 164 goals in 315 appearances for Cagliari, famously leading the Sardinian outfit to its only Serie A title in 1969-70.

Riva also remains Italy’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 35 goals across his 42 caps. Explaining the background to the decision, Truzzu said, according to the Ansa news agency: “When I proposed the naming to Riva we were both excited because such a choice is quite delicate, even if there are examples of facilities in Europe and in Italy that bear the name of living sportsmen.

“The field of the Foro Italico, for example, bears the name of Nicola Pietrangeli. But it was Riva who relieved us of the embarrassment. He told me he was happy to be able to live and savour the naming, precisely because usually this is dedicated to those who are no longer with us.”

Truzzu added: “Even if he was born in Leggiuno, Gigi is a Sardinian who chose Sardinia . When I talk to someone who remembers that Sunday in April when Cagliari secured the scudetto, I see that they get excited, their expression changes.”

Cagliari further advanced plans for its new stadium this month by agreeing deals for hotel and wellness centre components with Accor and the Snow Group, respectively.

Cagliari said the deals marked “another decisive step” in the project, together with the advancing administrative process which will see the venture’s arrival in the City Council for the confirmation of public interest status and the consequent convening of the decision-making Conference of Services.

The Regional Council of Sardinia last month gave the green light to provide €50m (£44.1m/$54m) in funding towards the new stadium. The funding will be allocated over four years, with an initial €3m to be provided in 2023. A further €15m will be provided in 2024, €12m in 2025, and €20m in 2026.

It is hoped the stadium, which will have an initial capacity of 25,000, will be delivered in time for the 2025-26 season. There are also plans to propose the stadium as a host venue as part of Italy’s bid to stage the 2032 UEFA European Championship.

Cagliari finalised plans for its new stadium last summer, with the venue to be built on the site of the old Stadio Sant’Elia. The club has been playing at the temporary Sardegna Arena since the 2017-18 season after the Sant’Elia was closed with a view to being demolished and completely rebuilt.

Cagliari was relegated from Serie A last season and currently sits sixth in the second division.