If it seems like we’ve been tracking the stop and start (mostly stopping) progress of the Stadio della Roma since our conversion to the Chiesa di Totti, well, it’s because we have. From the minute the Americans took over the club in the summer of 2011, delivering a Roma-only, calcio-specific stadium has been priority one—the first domino in AS Roma’s world domination, or so the song goes—and we’ve been there nearly every step of the way.
I say nearly simply because this thing has been a mess from the word go. What was initially envisioned as an AS Roma village of sorts, replete with the stadium, commercial properties and two gleaming towers, has been torn asunder by everything from money hungry hands to...frogs to the point where any sane person is right to question this project's feasibility.
Despite all that doom and gloom, the Stadio della Roma, both in its potential form and function, is a beauty, so we couldn’t help but speculate back in 2014:
But because this is business in Italy we're talking about, not to mention altering the footprint of a city that has stood since time immemorial, you would've been forgiven if you greeted the plans with a healthy dose of skepticism. That's just the Roman way, nothing is ever all okay until it is. However, now that the Stadio della Roma has cleared the penultimate bureaucratic hurdle and seems all but a formality, we're left to ask the most pressing question.
If the SdR (you heard it here first, remember) opens for play in 2017 as expected, will a then 41-year-old Francesco Totti be on the pitch as anything other than a resident dignitary?
Well, suffice it to say, we’ve answered that question. Thanks to everything from interference from the world’s most beautiful mayor, to your run of the mill amphibian concerns, Francesco will never play in the House That Totti Built, which was, as that three-year old piece details, set to open in the fall of 2017. And yes, Totti retired in the spring of 2017 anyway, but this thing has been waylaid from day one. Had they been given the all clear in 2012 or so, the SdR should have opened in time for the 2016-2017 season, Totti’s eventual swan song, and what a story that would have made!
Given all the empty promises and the premature proclamations, do we dare give the words of the Lazio regional councillor Michele Civita any weight?
From what I've heard – and, as you know, I'm not involved in the conference – there's a very constructive atmosphere...Everyone has expressed positive opinions and the observations made by the various institutions are all being looked at to harmonise everything.
I want to tell you that we're optimistic the conference will reach a positive conclusion...I don't think it will finish today, though; it's more likely it will finish next week, on Monday or Tuesday.
It's a constructive effort in the interests of the city, in the interests of Roma and in the interests of the fans.
I mean...geez...where do I begin? Forgive me for being “negative”, but all this positivity stems from some guy who wasn’t even present at the meetings. Are you fucking kidding me? And the club saw this as news fit to print? Can you see why I get so easily frustrated and annoyed by this club at times? While I don’t doubt Civita is privy to the meeting minutes, it seems odd that the city planner isn’t even involved in such a crucial meeting, yet his gossip has spawned this latest update.
The reported sticking point this time is the construction of a bridge that will connect the Tor di Valle region with the rest of Roma’s transportation hub, a bridge for which the local government will reportedly fit the bill, because they’ve been oh so accommodating to the club thus far.
Listen, in no way shape or form is James Pallotta responsible for this mess. In fact, he should be credited for having the patience and temerity to stay at this as long as he has, but the frustration, the annoyance and the negativity comes from the string of empty promises and proclamations issued by the club throughout all of this.
At least this time they’ve seemingly learned their lesson, as no one directly employed by the club has hailed this as the final step, but why even publish Civita’s second hand report? Why not just say “Friday’s meeting wasn’t decisive, but we hope for a decision next week.” Boom, simple as.
So, stay tuned. If, as this second hand report indicates, a final decision will be made early next week, then the club might break ground in early 2018, with an eye towards a 2020 opening.
At this point, there is no turning back. This stadium needs to be built. Both for the future vitality of the club and the maintenance of Pallotta’s regime. If this thing falls through the cracks once more, don’t be shocked if he divests himself from the club, and while I have my qualms with his administration, the club is on the hook for some hefty salaries and has some strongly desired players, so any flux in ownership could be disastrous in the short-run.