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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Inter, AC Milan to Leave San Siro For Separate Stadiums 

  • Inter and AC Milan ditched their shared “Cathedral” stadium project after Italian officials blocked the demolition of San Siro.
  • “AC Milan has found a new area just outside Milan, and Inter is doing the same,” AC Milan co-owner Riccardo Silva told FOS.
AC Milan and Inter will build separate new stadiums, ending their historic shared tenure at San Siro.
AC Milan

Italian soccer giants AC Milan and Inter Milan have abandoned their shared “Cathedral” stadium project with architecture firm Populous. They are instead pursuing separate stadiums to replace their historic San Siro home. 

In 2019, officials announced the Cathedral project and estimated its cost at $1.3 billion to replace San Siro by 2027. They intended to build the new stadium on the site of the nearly 100-year-old San Siro, which the city of Milan owned. However, government officials blocked the demolition of San Siro due to its historical significance, so construction for the Cathedral never began.

Both clubs have now pivoted, with plans to construct stadiums they will each privately own individually. San Siro has been the host to AC Milan since 1926 and Inter since 1947.

“The project of building a new San Siro next to it couldn’t be made because you cannot demolish San Siro, and you can’t even renovate it,” AC Milan co-owner Riccardo Silva told Front Office Sports. “So AC Milan has found a new area just outside the city of Milan, and Inter is doing the same,” he added. “The San Siro story will always remain in AC Milan and Inter’s history; at the same time, there will be a new stadium, more modern and better for the fans. It will take time—probably four or five years—but this is the direction that’s been taken.”

Inter will reportedly keep working with Populous for its new planned stadium in the Rozzano area. AC Milan has bought land in San Donato to build a new 70,000-seat stadium with architecture firm Manica, according to the La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper in Milan. Both teams hope to begin construction by 2025, with their stadiums open by 2028 or 2029.

Manica previously designed Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and Chase Center in San Francisco and is designing new stadiums for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and MLS club Inter Miami.  The two Milan stadiums are intended to open in time to support Italy’s potential bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

“Having two different stadiums makes more sense from a main point of view, of course from a business point of view it’s the best choice. And both AC Milan and Inter agreed on that,” Silva said. “Both clubs will have stadiums privately owned.”

Silva, a Milan native and veteran media rights executive, invested in AC Milan in 2022 when U.S. private equity firm RedBird Capital bought the club for $1.2 billion. He’s also an investor in the newly launched sports content startup Takes and owns the Dubai-based Globe Soccer Awards and Miami FC of the second-tier USL Championship league below MLS. 

“It’s challenging because, in Italy, it’s difficult to build anything,” Silva said. “In the last 20 years, only two stadiums were built. It’s all very complicated. You cannot touch anything. San Siro, which is a great stadium but has 100 years, unfortunately, all the bureaucracy has said that you cannot touch it because it’s a monument. I don’t know what the city will do with it once AC Milan and Inter will have left. Maybe they’ll do a couple of concerts every summer.”

San Siro’s 80,000 capacity makes it one of the largest stadiums in Europe. It is scheduled to host the opening ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy. Inter and AC Milan currently sit atop the early Serie A season standings with 3-0 records. Both teams have qualified for the UEFA Champions League in three straight years.

The New York Yankees and LeBron James also invested in AC Milan as part of RedBird’s 2022 club takeover. AC Milan made $299 million in 2022 and is reportedly expected to increase revenue by 40% this year to $420 million. Top American soccer star Christian Pulisic transferred from Chelsea to AC Milan in July before Milan played exhibition matches in Las Vegas and California as part of this summer’s Soccer Champions Tour organized by private equity firm Sixth Street with five other top European clubs.

“I trust RedBird, I trust [AC Milan CEO] Giorgio Furlani,” Silva said. “They’re doing an amazing job. They’re one of the few—I think two of the top 20 teams in Europe that are profitable—which is incredible. Even coming in the top four of the Champions League last year. They showed that you can increase the performance without creating a disaster in the accounts, even being profitable.”

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