Tuesday, September 29, 2009


(ANSA) - Rome, September 29 - AS Roma on Tuesday unveiled plans to build a new stadium on the outskirts of the Italian capital.

Roma President Rosella Sensi said the idea of the club having its own stadium, instead of renting one from the city council, had ``always been at the centre`` of her late father Franco`s plans, as well as those of another historic club president, Dino Viola.

The 55,000-seater stadium, billed as family friendly and eco-advanced, is expected to be called after Franco Sensi.

Coach Claudio Ranieri said he liked the idea that the so-called `technical area`, where coaches sit, would be inset into the terraces like at Premier League grounds such as Chelsea`s, where he coached for two years. ``You feel like you`re together, a part of the crowd,``he said.

Roma skipper Francesco Totti, who is about to sign a three-year contract extension, said he ``hoped`` to see the new ground finished. ``It looks beautiful. I`d like to tread the turf of such a stadium,`` said the 35-year-old club icon. ``It will be tough for me to play long enough. I hope they get it built fast, he said.

Daniele De Rossi, widely touted to take over Totti`s mantle, said upon seeing the plans: ``You`ll be able to feel the fans living the game with you. Just imagine what it`ll be like having 60,000 Roma fans around you, so close``.

One of the longstanding gripes about Roma`s present home, the 1960 Olympic Stadium, is that the stands are too far back from the pitch to allow fans to make a full connection with the players.

No firm completion date has been set for the ground, which is yet to get full planning approval. The architect, Gino Zavanella, said it would be the first
``eco-sustainable`` stadium, with solar panels and a non-degradable and non-polluting titanium-zinc structure. ``It will be naturally ventilated and the turf will be irradiated,`` he added. Stressing that the stadium will be able to be evacuated ``in five minutes,`` Zavanella said it would have ``spaces set aside for families, children in particular...as well as a museum on the club`s history``.
``This stadium will be alive, on the inside and the outside, and it will continue to provide services to people all week``.

According to media reports the ground will be surrounded by a huge leisure and residential complex including a mall,cinemas, restaurants, bars, a swimming pool and perhaps also a new hotel.

Roma hopes its future home, backed by City Mayor Gianni Alemanno, will generate income comparable with that of the big Premier League or Liga clubs where a family atmosphere has kept hooligans at bay and a range of shops and other facilities have generated income for the transfer market. Mayor Alemanno insisted ``the ground is the club`s right``. He said initial reports from planning agencies had been``positive``.

Roma Administrative Director Cristina Mazzoleni said the club had not yet put a final price tag on the project. She cited construction experts as saying the ground would take ``24-26 months to build, once started``. ``We will try to involve local firms as much as possible,`` Mazzoleni added.

The other Roman club, SS Lazio, is also trying to get away from the Olimpico, which it rents along with Roma, and build its own ground on the other side of the city. But both projects still have to approved. ``If the culture ministry doesn`t say Ok they won`t go ahead,`` Culture Undersecretary Franco Giro said at the
presentation at Rome`s training camp. Giro said he ``knew nothing`` about reports that a Roman villa and necropolis had been unearthed during preliminary digs at the site opposite the Ancient Roman Via Aurelia about 10km from the city centre.

So far the only Italian soccer club to start work on a stadium it will own, rather than rent, is Juventus. Packed with amenities, the 105-million-euro stadium,
already rising from the ashes of the old Delle Alpi ground, is scheduled to open in northern Turin in 2011.

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