The project to deliver a new stadium for Italian Serie A club Cagliari Calcio has taken a key step forward, with the Region of Sardinia giving the green light to a €50m (£43.3m/$54.9m) funding package, denying that reluctance to back the venture was behind delays for the scheme.
The Regional Council of Sardinia initially gave the green light to provide €50m in funding towards the new stadium back in February, but this was only formally signed off yesterday (Tuesday). The Region’s allocation will see €3m allocated by December, €15m in 2024, a further €12 million in 2025, while the last tranche of €20m will be awarded in 2026.
A further €109m needed for the project will be divided between the Municipality of Cagliari and Cagliari Calcio. Approval has been awaited for months by the Municipality and the club, but President of the Region, Christian Solinas, has defended the delays. “As we said from the beginning, we had already allocated these very important resources with the stability law,” he said.
“We are the only Region in Italy to have done so to give citizens a new stadium, a space finally worthy of the support that Sardinians can give to their favourite team.”
He continued: “Before being able to sign the consequent documents, an administrative and bureaucratic process was necessary which found its first conclusion and which will transfer the amounts with the program agreement to the Municipality of Cagliari.
“After that it will be the honour and burden of the Municipality of Cagliari to quickly give this new structure to all citizens. This is how it ends and therefore the controversies are denied and the whole story that the Region was the one that did not want to build the Cagliari stadium is also denied.”
It is hoped the new stadium, which will have an initial capacity of 25,000, will be delivered in time for the 2025-26 season. There are also hopes the facility will be a host venue for Italy’s co-hosting of the 2032 UEFA European Championship with Turkey.
Cagliari finalised plans for its new stadium in July 2022, 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.
In March, Cagliari City Council unanimously approved a motion presented by Mayor Paolo Truzzu that the new stadium be named after club, and Italian national team legend, Gigi Riva.
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.
Reacting to yesterday’s news, Truzzu said in a statement: “A long process of work today, with the awaited resolution of the regional council, lays the foundations for the construction of a large stadium for Cagliari and Sardinia, without forgetting the regeneration of the entire Sant’Elia district.
“I have just signed the resolution on the program agreement to immediately bring it to the city council. I promised it to the people of Cagliari, the fans and the Sardinians. And among them, to one in particular: Gigi Riva.”
Cagliari Calcio added: “Our journey continues for a strategic project that we strongly want, for Cagliari and all of Sardinia. Dialogue with the institutions, planning, reason and ambition, these are our guidelines. Forever. United together.”