It’s happening. It’s actually, honest-to-god, grab-your-butts-and-hang-on-as-tightly-as-possible happening. Work has started at the Mercafir site for a new Fiorentina stadium, just 10 years after the Della Valle brothers proposed building a replacement for the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Okay, we may be exaggerating a bit. What’s actually happening is that the club has hired engineers to begin taking samples from ground around Mercafir to determine how best to build a stadium that will stay up. These samples—called “carrots” in Italian, which is awfully charming—extend up to 27 meters into the ground. Workers are also checking the existing concrete walls to see how they’ve held up over the years.
As we mentioned last time we wrote about this stadium, it’s now been more than a decade since Diego said he wanted a Viola-only structure to host his team’s matches. What we’ve seen since has basically been the question-tennis scene from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, with both sides rallying back and forth without ever providing anything like a substantive answer.
A few months ago, though, Florence mayor Dario Nardella (the third mayor the DVs have been working on this with) issued something kind of, sort of resembling an ultimatum: give us a fully updated set of plans for making this thing happen or we’re going to move on. While Andrea Della Valle hemmed and hawed, apparently Nardella lit a fire under him, as this is the first actual stadium-related work at the old supermarket site since the environmental impact survey brought things grinding to a halt more than a year ago.
The current round of geological tests are probably a part of the Viola effort to submit its plans before 2019, although ADV has requested an extension of the deadline (I think I’ve written that phrase in every single pieces about this damn stadium) until the April or May to let his folks process all the engineering information and reformat their designs accordingly.
The fact that there are Fiorentina-contracted people working at the site represents a huge step forward in the whole mess, though, as this is the first time that the club’s reps, rather than the government’s, have been involved in conducting these on-site feasibility tests. We may still be half a decade out at best from seeing a new stadium finished (the cynic would say that we’re at least that far from even seeing one started), but this is an encouraging sign.
Meanwhile, since the Viola began discussing the construction of a soccer-specific arena at the old Mercafir, all of Sassuolo, Juventus, Udinese, Atalanta, and SPAL have all planned, built, and played in team-owned stadia.