Populous and rival bidder Manica/Sportium could be forced to rethink their designs for the new San Siro stadium after Milan’s municipal authorities demanded major changes to the project, according to reports in the Italian media
Populous and its US/Italian consortium competitor had submitted designs for a new 60,000 stadium and the demolition of the existing San Siro.
But Milan’s city council has this week recommended to its mayor that the current project was unacceptable, due to the development’s ‘excessive size’, and its focus on commercial facilities, according to the Corriere Della Sera.
The council also attacked the lack of effort the project made to preserve the existing San Siro architecture and demanded new thinking on the issue.
The clubs said they would consider the new conditions but warned that they had the option of moving to the site of a former steel plant site in the northern suburb of Sesto San Giovanni, the paper reported.
Both Populous and Manica Architects told the AJ they had no comment.
Populous’s proposal, dubbed The Cathedral, is inspired by two of Milan’s most iconic buildings: the Duomo and the Galleria. The design is being driven by Chris Lee from its London office in conjunction with its Milan team, led by Italian sports architect and ex-Gensler director Alessandro Zoppini.
The Manica/Sportium bid envisages ‘two rings’ to represent each set of fans using the faces of 16,000 supporters, as well as a new park square. The consortium’s team comprises three architects: David Manica, Giovanni Giacobone (CEO Sportium) and Massimo Roj, chief executive of Progetto CMR, which owns Sportium.
Both bids now appear doomed in their current form.
After three hours of discussion the council voted to give its approval for the stadium project. However, it attached 16 ‘indispensible’ conditions.
‘I’m happy with the decision, but the project is not acceptable as it stands,’ said mayor Beppe Sala. ‘The requested stadium size is excessive and unrealistic, and efforts must be made to safeguard the old San Siro facility. At the very least, we must be absolutely sure that there is no possibility of saving it in some way – not just preserving it as a monument, but making it work.’ Negotiations would now begin in earnest, the paper said.
The three key demands were: a reduction in the wider scheme’s size, a focus on the stadium as a sporting rather than commercial space and reconsidering the approach to the San Siro.
The decision ‘leaves little room for movement in the talks between the clubs and the council over the coming months,’ the paper said. ‘The clubs would never accept the simultaneous existence of the two stadiums, meaning that the issue at stake will be what to save from San Siro and how.’
Inter’s CEO, Alessandro Antonello, said: ‘We will listen to their position and try to assess whether the proposal presented for the stadium, albeit modified, is sustainable in economic-financial terms, as a project of this size must be if it is to go ahead.’
Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Milan, acknowledged the vote but pointed out they have an alternative the importance of yesterday’s vote, pointed out that there is an alternative to the San Siro area.
The paper reported that each side has a Plan B. The clubs could switch to the site at Sesto San Giovanni, while the council had the option to ask the heritage department to assess San Siro’s cultural value, which would take four months at a time the clubs want to act speedily.
‘We need this project. Regardless of the conditions, we want to act quickly,’ said Inter’s chairman, Steven Zhang.
The paper reported that the clubs’ first move will probably be to ask their two firms of architects to assess what can be saved of San Siro, and how, and to present their proposals to the council.
US-based Manica, which specialises in sports and entertainment buildings, was founded in 2007 by David Manica, who previously worked for HOK Sport on, among other things, the 02 Arena. The firm is based in Kansas City with offices in London and Hong Kong.
The proposed £630 million stadium, which would be built to the east of the San Siro while the ground remains in use, was intended to be completed for the start of the 2022/23 campaign.
AC Milan have been playing at the ground since it was built in 1925 and have shared it with rivals Inter Milan since 1947. In the 1950s, the ground had 19 external pedestrian ramps added to it, followed by 11 concrete cylindrical towers (designed by Ragazzi and Partners 1987-1990) as part of a major overhaul ahead of Italy’s World Cup in 1990.
The original San Siro stadium which may now have to be saved - at least in part