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Stadio della Roma: What Took So Long and What’s Next?

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Should we start queuing up now?

US Sassuolo v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Now that the Stadio della Roma has cleared its final hurdle (stifle your laughter), I thought it might be interesting to assemble the clergy and bask in their collective wisdom: What took so long? When will it open? Who will be playing that day?

So, without further delay, the latest rendition of our Roma roundtable.

#1. Well, we made it, the Stadio della Roma (SdR) has finally been given the okay. What were or are your initial thoughts/feelings on the process?

Bren: I suppose I’d say relief. While it seems as though the lovely Ms. Raggi won the negotiations, barring a threat to move the club (impossible), Pallotta didn’t have a ton of leverage now did he? Beyond purposefully tanking the club and turning the area around the Olimpico into a sullen hell hole, he didn’t have a leg to stand on, so I’m grateful that cooler heads prevailed and they got something approved.

Jimmy Miotto: I’m mainly annoyed that it took so long that there is basically a 0% chance that Francesco Totti will ever play in the new stadium. Granted, that was always a long shot, but now we’re probably more likely to see Francesco’s son start the first game at the Stadio della Roma, and that’s a shame. Hopefully Totti the Elder is still involved in the club in some form when the stadium is finally complete.

JonAS: I don’t see myself as an architect so I won’t get into technical matters or aspects, but on a business level this is a great achievement. We need to look at the future and a more modern stadium is the best way to attract younger/new fans. It’s a sign that Roma, as a club, are ambitious and want to belong to the very top of Italy, together with Juve and the Milan outfits.

AsRemus: Honestly, I did my best to stay away from all the drama surrounding the stadium. Watching Roma games week by week is enough for my blood pressure. It did seem like a nightmarish obstacle course made of red tape. I’m not gunna lie, the day of reckoning had me very nervous.

Sam: When I first saw the architect pics (was that 3 years ago?) I was quite excited. The process has been predictably excruciating. There’s no doubt a new stadium is needed and it is nice to know it might actually happen… some day.

ASRCanes: Meh. We definitely need a stadium, but I am not thrilled with the project. FYI this is just me being an architecture snob. I don’t like the location: Tor di Valle is too far out of the urban center. I don’t like the architecture: Dan Mies himself said the stadium of the future is more of a shared-space like Piazza del Campo in Siena (where they hold the Palio) and not an object building such as this one. I don’t like the capacity: too many seats, just so the stadium can hold UEFA events. Should have been closer to 40-50k so that it is always filled (like Juve).

Thomas: Well, it took long enough but I’m not surprised, sooner or later a new stadium was bound to happen, right? However, thinking about how long it took just to get to this point and not forgetting how much is left to do before any grand opening, I won’t believe the Stadio della Roma exists until I see it with my own eyes. To put it bluntly, I’m not holding my breath just yet.

#2 To what do you attribute the delay: Roma’s demands or the vagaries of Italian politics?

Bren: I’ve always assumed it was all about money, pork, kickbacks, bribes. Whatever term you want to use, it was important that all the local warlords got their cut before the Americans got their way; you’ll never convince me otherwise. The geological and neighborhood aesthetic concerns were, to quote Joe Biden, a bunch of malarky. This was always about greasing the wheels. Pallotta had the patience to withstand several mayoral administrations, so we should be thankful he kept the longview in mind.

Jimmy: Forget it, Bren, it’s Romatown. Some people in the government in their pocket wanted to make a stink about the stadium being built, assuming that billionaire Pallotta would pay them off to shut up. As an American, I’m used to local governments begging for teams to build new stadiums, essentially making them tax exemptions for billionaires; the amount of resistance Pallotta got from the government while trying to make this happen implies that he wasn’t playing ball with their requests for under-the-table bribes.

JonAS: I didn’t really follow all the fuzz about the new stadium if I’m being honest, so I don’t know what’s been said or done or what’s in the files. I just looked at the pictures and prototypes of the stadium (hey, I like to keep things simple). Italy has always been a circus when it comes to politics, throw in a type like James Pallotta, who’s a real business man and plays hardball, and you have an explosive cocktail. So I guess a bit of both.

AsRemus: Dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. Surely, Pallotta being American didn’t help either. Billionaire American comes to town imposing his vision… obviously the powers that be made sure to make to make this as difficult as possible.

Sam: I’ve got no doubt the Italian bureaucracy was licking it’s lips when Pallotta started shooting his mouth off about having a stadium good to go for 2017-18. You also have to take a swipe at the idiotic 5 star movement that insisted into turning the process into a political drama.

ASRCanes: No one is innocent. Pallotta was too cocky at the beginning of the process, and then the political drama began and that was even worse…

Thomas: It is a combination of both and the bottom line is money. I don’t know if there was some shady deals being made, although it wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m confident that someone, whether it was the politicians or Pallotta, wasn’t happy with their piece of the pie.

#3 Do you think this will do as much for Roma’s bottom line and standing in the game as the administration has led us to believe?

Bren: Hmm, hard to say. I am curious, however, the extent to which losing 50% of the project, namely the business park, will impact their revenue streams. I mean, it obviously will, but will that spill over to the product on the pitch? Certainly having a privately owned stadium with modern amenities has to be better than the cavernous and outdated Olimpico.

Jimmy: It’ll put Roma within spitting distance of Juventus when it comes to revenue, but it’ll take a lucrative kit sponsorship, consistent CL money, and a more equitable TV deal for the Giallorossi to become one of the real big boys of Europe (if that). I’m not sure all of those things will happen, but it’s a nice thought.

JonAS: Only if we keep ending in top 3-4 of Serie A consistently and qualify for the Champions League. After all, what’s the point of having such a modern stadium if you end eight or seventh and never entertain a European club? Then it’s gonna be a very expensive joke. When looking at the bigger picture, the SdR is just one step Roma will take, albeit a giant leap (see also: Armstrong, moon,1969).

AsRemus: If you build it they will come… A full-packed stadium with high decibel levels is like having an extra man on the pitch. Let’s face it, the Olimpico is ghostly. You can hardly hear the fans at all. Yes, this year the Olimpico has been a fortress, but imagine Roma in a modern stadium filled with yellow and red, chants raining from the heavens. All hail the SdR!

Sam: Yeah this is a big step. My hometown renovated a stadium and it encouraged more people to come plus it makes the game-day experience so much better. Getting into the Olimpico is a pain in the arse and then the view is substandard from most seats. This is certainly the right move for both the club and the supporter base. Will it make us world beaters? Probably not, look at Man UTD struggling the last few years despite making the most cash, but it’s not going to hurt us.

ASRCanes: I fear the opposite. I have a bad feeling that they won’t draw as well as they expect. Tickets will undoubtedly be expensive as hell, capacity too high, there are so many freaking VIP areas, the stadium is further from the center of Rome, etc.

Thomas: I have the worst mind for business (magic beans? Yes, please!) so I really can’t comment, but if the Stadio della Roma wasn’t guaranteed to generate revenue it wouldn’t be built. That being said, can you imagine if this thing ends up losing money? That might be the end of Roma as we know it. Building a new stadium is a major commitment and signal of intent but it also raises the bar exponentially. Yeah, yeah, yeah, if you build it…but what if ticket prices are too expensive, the stadium is too far out of the way, or the team is underperforming? No Roman I know is going to spend his Sunday afternoon paying through the nose and traversing a many weary mile to watch a team play in the Serie B.

#4 If you could build a bronze statue of Francesco Totti in front of the SdR, what iconic pose would you use as your inspiration?

Bren: Has to be the thumbsucking, right?

Jimmy: Bren already took what I’ll call the Er Pupone, so I’ll go with my other favorite Totti goal celebration: Capitano’s arms outstretched, Roma kit in one hand, wearing that wonderful Vi Ho Purgato Ancora t-shirt.

JonAS: Bren nailed it, although the four fingers (Roma-Juventus) or taking a penalty kick could also be considered. Or a statue of his famous graffiti counterpart, in the Monti district.

AsRemus: While Totti’s iconic thumbsuck is undoubtedly a fan favorite, I just can’t see it as a statue. It doesn’t necessarily portray the glory of Er Pupone. I am thinking something more like this or this.

Sam: It’s gotta be with his leg raised back with his mane of hair flinging out, just before he makes contact with a dead ball. Wait a minute, isn’t that what the CDT logo is? Chris has a T-shirt of it. No really, he does.

ASRCanes: Agree with Jimmy. The arms spread out wide is an iconic pose of his, and works really well as a “Welcome to My House” kind of greeting outside of the stadium.

Thomas: Forget bronze. Carve it out of marble like the rest of the statues around Rome but make it real opulent and idealized. Think angel wings like on a Bernini. Or better yet, put Totti in a legionary uniform, gladius in hand, standing atop a pile of dead Lazio players. That would be awesome!

#5 Give us a prediction: when will this thing actually open?

Bren: I can’t see it opening before the 2021 season, so that would be my extremely optimistic guess, but more likely the following season, soooo, five years from now? Yeesh.

Jimmy: I’ll say the start of the 2021/22 season. By that time I’ll be wearing self-lacing shoes, Star Wars Episode XI: The Search for More Money will be in theaters, and Cristian Totti will be lighting up the senior squad.

JonAS: I read 2021, however that can still change, in a good or bad way. I just hope I’m still alive to witness it. Christian would be 16 by then, still a bit young to captain this side, but a sub appearance in the first game at SdR would be the cherry on the cake.

AsRemus: The year is 2022. Opening game against Lazio. A 45 year old Francesco Totti trots onto the pitch wearing the captain’s armband. The Stadio Della Roma goes absolutely crazy. The scoreline ends 2-0. Francesco with a PK. Substitute Christian (his first cap) with a chip in 92nd minute.

Sam: Dear lord, well how long is it taking all those slaves to build the Qatar stadiums? I mean best we can hope for is probably 5-6 years.

ASRCanes: 2027. The Metro Line C is about 10 years behind schedule, so I’ll go with the same time frame for the stadium.

Thomas: We have a long way to go yet and there is no telling what could happen, but best case scenario, 2021. Worst case scenario, I don’t know, 2027?

#6 Just for fun, give us a predicted starting lineup for that day.

Bren: Alisson in goal, Nura, Florenzi, Rudiger and Fazio in defense. Nainggolan, Pellegrini and Adrien Rabiot in midfield. Upfront, Salah, El Shaarawy and, oh why not, Lacazette. Impossible to predict, but I would imagine Fazio and Nainggolan will be the token elder statesman of the team by then. Wait, how old will Christian be in five years!?

Jimmy: Alisson; Emerson, Rudiger, Marchizza, Florenzi; Gerson, Pellegrini, Strootman; El Shaarawy, Tumminello, Salah. Manager will be Eusebio di Francesco, after Spalletti brings the club success and decides to move on after Totti’s retirement. The first match will be Roma vs. Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana.

JonAS: My God I don’t even know how the team will look like after this Summer. But I’ll give it a shot:

Skorupski - Nura Rüdiger Marchizza R. Rodriguez - Strootman Kessie - Florenzi Radja Lamela - Batshuayi

AsRemus: GK- Perin - CB-Rudiger - CB- Marquinhos - RB- Florenzi- LB- Cyborg Riise- CM- Kessie- CM- Radja - LM - Pulisic - RM- Lamela - ST - Francesco Totti- ST- Christian Totti - MANAGER- Montella

Sam: Some guy, Some other guy, other guy’s best mate, General Fletcher’s wife, General Fletcher’s wife’s tennis partners and Florenzi.

ASRCanes: Florenzi. That’s about it.

Thomas: Jesus, I have no idea. But I’m confident if Florenzi is captain on that day we would all be happy.