Roma's New Stadium Inches Ever Closer

Paolo Bruno - Getty Images

Following Tuesday's announcement that the list of potential stadium locations has been narrowed down to three, what has been for years a myth is moving closer to reality.

It seems as though we've been tracking the plans for Roma's new, sole-tenant football stadium for years now. What was previously a well-intentioned rumor finally has some serious (and legitimate) traction, following Tuesday's announcement by club President James Pallotta's that the club has both narrowed the potential locations down to three and selected an actual architect, American Dan Meis.

While the actual site, ground breaking and design have yet to be decided, the selection of an actual architect, an estimate of seating capacity and the whittling down of possible locations is perhaps the last speculative step remaining before actual design and construction begin.

If you're like most people, you have a list of favorite architects, you obsessively comment on architecture blogs and probably have portraits of Frank Gehry and I.M. Pei in your bathroom. But just in case you're not familiar with Meis' work, here's a rundown of projects he's had a hand in designing and creating: (check out some actual renderings here)

  • Los Angeles' Staples Center (home to the Lakers and Clippers)
  • Paul Brown Stadium (home to the Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Lincoln Financial Field (home to the Philadelphia Eagles)
  • Miller Park (home to the Milwaukee Brewers)
  • Safeco Field (home to the Seattle Mariners)

That's only a small portion of a pretty impressive list; he's also been part of renovations to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center in New York, as well as designing various stadia in some of the world's largest emerging sports markets, like the Sports City complex in Doha, Qatar, the World Cup Stadium in Qatar, a multi-use athletic facility in Bahrain and a massive Olympic complex in Dalian, China.

While some of these were merely designs, it appears Pallotta and company picked a serious heavyweight in the field of athletic architecture. With good reason, not only will this boost the clubs profile, it also figures to be, along with Juventus Stadium, an integral part in any Italian bid for either a World Cup or European Championship. Meis' work is also incredibly varied, touching upon football, soccer, basketball, baseball, Olympic sites and even tennis, so he certainly has the experience to deliver an impressive home for Roma

So what does this potential 60,000 seat stadium mean for the clubs balance sheets? With Juventus Stadium being the first and only privately held stadium in Italian football, there is very little concrete evidence (at this point, at least) to definitively say how large an impact this will have on club revenue. However, the early returns for The Old Lady are quite promising. In its first year of operation, Juve cleared €11M revenue from their new digs, with early projections for 2012-2013, based on increased seating capacity, potential naming rights and the introduction of a "premium club" (a sort of corporate/luxury suite/public relations amalgam) putting that figure north of €32M; an amount which figures to climb as they find more ways to exploit their new cash cow (which Americans are quite adept at, so we should have no problem in that regard).

And with good reason, by some estimates Italian clubs only garner 13% of their revenue from stadiums, compared to 27% in England. So it's about time Roma got a piece of that pie. Although with an average attendance ranging between 35,000 and 40,000, a 60,000 seat stadium seems a bit excessive, projecting a sense of ticket scarcity usually results in steady, near capacity attendance. Empty seats are ugly and depressing, so we'll see where the final figures fall, though one would imagine part of a new stadium would be an improved sense of security, which might bring in more families.

We've talked a lot on CDT about the "project" and the new era for Roma, most of which exists behind closed doors, but a brand new state of the art football cathedral will be a sure sign the new Roma has arrived.

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