James Pallotta's quest to get the Stadio della Roma built reminds me of a younger version of myself trying to beat Zelda on the old NES. The cartridge, which was gold if I recall correctly, was a shimmering beacon of hope; a challenging and rewarding change of pace from slaughtering pixilated ducks. But getting the damn thing to actually load correctly was a process in and of itself—can you imagine such a design flaw being released on a gaming system today?—and on the few occasions when it did work, the game was filled with too much red tape to make it enjoyable. After hours, weeks and months spent dealing with these headaches, it wasn’t long before I sold the game to a friend and spent my winnings on candy.
It's not a perfect analogy, but few among us can blame Pallotta for wanting to cash out at this point; getting that stadium built has been one headache after another. If only he could blow into the cartridge, flick the little white part in the middle (this is sounding way too sexual) or throw the fucking thing against the wall while his mom yelled “I'm not buying you another one!” like I did as a kid—but there are no tricks, no shortcuts and no work-arounds to getting things built in Italy.
But, if former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has his way, business in post-pandemic Italy will be streamlined to a degree never seen before on the peninsula.
Renzi, one of the chief proponents of Italy's “Shock Plan”—which is itself the spawn of an EU stimulus plan in which Italy will receive €82 billion in emergency grants and a further €91 billion in low-interest loans—spoke to Bloomberg about the need to cut the red-tape for which Italy is so notorious:
While he doesn't touch upon the sporting aspect of this plan, Renzi noted that these bureaucratic obstacles must be removed in order for Italy to compete economically with the rest of Europe and the world at large, to say nothing of simply recovering from the economic effects of the pandemic.
With respect to stadium projects, Renzi pointed to football's role as an economic engine:
Considering the situation that has been created, football is an instrument to help the economy get moving again. Football is economy and a stadium creates revenue...It’s essential we remove the urban development limitations. It’s unthinkable that San Siro can be renovated, but not the Stadio Franchi in Florence.
Our friends at Viola Nation have been tracking this story for years, and while the Fiorentina struggle for a new ground isn't quite as anguishing as Roma's, the Stadio Franchi, which falls under a set of laws covering historic buildings, presents its own unique challenges.
Renzi then drew comparisons between the Stadio Franchi and the San Siro in MIlan, the latter of which can essentially be demolished at will because of the dramatic renovations that took place prior to the 1990 World Cup.
While we shouldn't necessarily draw a straight line between the EU stimulus package and the Stadio della Roma, if this influx of capital just so happens to make the business of doing business in Italy a little more efficient, then maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for Roma and their new ground.