Good news does travel fast, after all. Just days after we speculated that Roma may have to wait until September or October’s mayoral elections to finally have the old Tor di Valle project removed from their path, it turns out the best-case scenario has become reality as Rome’s assembly meeting got 17 out of a total 19 votes across the line to remove the Tor di Valle project from the public interest list.
How Did We Get Here and Why Is It Important?
The Tor di Valle area was the site of James Pallotta’s old Stadio della Roma bid, which saw major revisions leading to two separate bids, with the project finally being approved by the government a couple of years ago. Since then, nothing happened, and everyone’s long-held fears came about as it turned out Pallotta didn’t have the finance or staying power to survive a pandemic, maintain control of A.S. Roma and put up the billions that his venture capital group would have had to loan to start laying down brick to pavement in Tor di Valle.
There were fears that the City of Rome initially tried to protect themselves against, by trying to get Pallotta’s A.S. Roma to sign a 30-year agreement, where the club agreed not to change ownership or do so under financial penalty paid back to the city. We don’t know what happened to that agreement in the end (it was never made official), but the point is James Pallotta came up short.
While his farewell interview with The Athletic made for some nice behind-the-scenes facts mixed in with smoke, ultimately Pallotta’s excuse of “my biggest mistake was trusting other people” just wasn’t good enough. Some people (not me—and I was wrong) had doubts about the titanic size of the stadium project Pallotta was proposing from the very start, back in the early 2010s, and the fact Pallotta is no longer in Rome says it all.
Unfortunately with Pallotta forced to bail on A.S. Roma while his stadium bid was finally greenlit in Parliament, that left some government officials claiming that Dan Friedkin wouldn’t be able to propose a new stadium project of his own, given that the club was mandated to carry out their Tor di Valle project—a project added to the “public interest” list of Rome at the time Friedkin became the owner of the club.
Whether or not it’s entirely true that the club can’t legally bid for another project while the first is still approved by the city, the bottom line is Friedkin wasn’t going to go anywhere near that mess or give anybody any excuses to sabotage business, so the club bided their time until today’s news: The Tor di Valle project has officially been removed from the public interest and no one is thinking of James Pallotta’s old project getting built anymore.
It’s always going to be tempting (and often justifiable) to blame the state of Italian government for why we’re here, but A.S. Roma is no less guilty in the club’s own incompetence throughout the last decade. It was also naive to swashbuckle into Rome and think a stadium bid would get over the line within years, considering far bigger clubs Inter and AC Milan have been fighting local red tape in Lombardia since the late 20th century on their own stadium bid.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It’s everyone’s wish that Dan Friedkin’s regime can truly turn the page, propose a more realistic, sustainable, and modern stadium project, and leave no one in goverment (or elsewhere) with any excuses to deny A.S. Roma the right to be landlords of their own home.
In what’s becoming typical to the Friedkin Era so far, though, no official site has been identified by the club when it comes to their new stadium proposal. There have been rumors about the stadium to be taken outside of the city, built anywhere from Daniele De Rossi’s hometown of Ostia to Fiumicino. There have also been a number of rumored locations inside the city of Rome itself, but no official word whatsoever from Friedkin’s Roma on what the club has in mind.
Nonetheless, there’s now nothing standing in the way of A.S. Roma presenting their new project. And given that Roma CEO Guido Fienga did officially go on record saying that the Friedkins want a stadium bid approved sometime within 2021, we can only expect that the club will make their proposal any week (or even any day) now.
Just whether that bid has any chance of getting greenlit in Parliament while Mayor Virginia Raggi is still in office, is truly anyone’s guess.
For what little it's worth, we’d expect pretty much every Rome mayoral candidate (including Raggi) to jump on the new stadium bid as if it were their idea. No one is going to say no to the chance for new business and new jobs on their campaign ticket, during an election year.