Design & Development

Virtus Bologna sets out plans for permanent home

Italian Lega Basket Serie A club Virtus Bologna has unveiled plans for a permanent new arena in an effort to strengthen its position in European basketball’s elite.

Virtus has been competing at a temporary facility, Segafredo Arena, since 2019, but the plans presented yesterday (Thursday) call for a 10,000-seat venue that will be delivered by Christmas 2024.

The new multi-purpose arena will be built within the Bologna Fairgrounds and has been designed by MCA – Mario Cucinella Architects to be an iconic building that can be transformed into different configurations and be energy efficient.

The arena, expected to cost €55m (£48.4m/$59.1m), will replace Pavilion 35 at the Fairgrounds and is part of a broader strategy to repurpose the Fairgrounds for cultural and sports entertainment activities.

Architecturally, the project is characterised by a basement about 10 metres high, on which the volume housing the arena is placed, reaching a height of 25 metres. The volume and scenic façade are envisioned to make the new facility a landmark of considerable impact and, at the same time, simple and well inserted into the context of the district.

Externally, the building is wrapped in a “dynamic envelope” on which images will be able to be projected. This is intended to appear like a large suspended lantern from the outside.

With an indicative capacity of 10,000 seats, the arena has been designed not only with the characteristics of a multi-purpose sports facility, but also to ensure efficiency and versatility to hold trade fair exhibitions and entertainment events, with adequate free surfaces and heights.

Through a rapid assembly/disassembly system, it will be possible to both vary the capacity of the space and increase the visibility of the court, ensuring maximum efficiency in every configuration of the arena.

In designing the stands, they have been brought as close as possible to the playing area to enhance the spectator experience. The arena design includes the possibility of including within the bowl VIP seating areas and sky boxes.

From a structural perspective, the use of local, natural, recycled or recyclable materials, efficient technologies and processes, planned maintenance and selective demolition and recovery of end-of-life materials and components will be favoured.

Environmentally, techniques will be adopted with the aim of minimising/optimising energy consumption and neutralising residual emissions through the proper use of renewable energy sources.

Virtus Bologna is owned by Massimo Zanetti, whose Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group is an Italian coffee company that owns brands such as Segafredo, the club’s main sponsor. Speaking at yesterday’s presentation, Zanetti, president of Virtus Bologna, said: “The new arena is fundamental because Virtus lives on sponsorship, but also on the public, and for the city of Bologna… having a year-round facility at this level is very important also from an economic point of view.

“A new company will be made to build the arena, the Virtus club remains detached, it has nothing to do with the management of the arena. The arena will live off the rent it takes from various tenants, but also from Virtus because we will logically have to square the circle.

“The arena is essential for the EuroLeague. Professional clubs have to have an arena, they have to have a structure so they can be competitive in Europe.”

Mayor Matteo Lepore added: “It is an important project, unprecedented for the city. It is part of a more comprehensive vision of the Parco Nord, which will be linked not only to fairs, but also to entertainment and sport, with an innovative use of the pavilions.”