Before we announce this, we want to advise you faint of heart, you easily surprised or frightened, and any baby bunnies (we assume we’re very popular with the rabbit crowd) to brace yourselves for some really, truly, astonishingly surprising news. Ready? Okay. Here goes: the Mercafir stadium has encountered another speed bump. Hopefully, this news didn’t make you do this:
Down to the particulars, then. As you probably know, the Della Valles have long wanted to build a stadium at the site of the Mercafir supermarket in northwestern Florence. While there have been any number of setbacks in the realization of this dream, the latest involves the land itself.
As plans stand, the stadium wouldn’t be the only thing on the site. There would be training facilities for Fiorentina’s men’s, women’s, and youth sides, as well as a good deal of commercial real estate available for rent. Such a project needs a lot of space, obviously. Even more than the current Mercafir site contains. Therefore, the DVs were also going to buy some land owned by the Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci that’s currently unused.
And here’s where it all goes pear-shaped: that land (15 hectares) was just bought by a third party. Unipol, a business entity which is majority owned by Argentinean real estate mogul Eduardo Eurnekian’s Corporación América Italia holding company, has snapped up the land, thus blocking the current development plans by having the 450,000 square meter footprint the new complex would have.
So what does this mean for the stadium? The shortest and easiest answer means it’s gone up in smoke. The longer, more nuanced, and frankly more realistic answer is that it’s back to the drawing board. Perhaps the DVs and their team will redesign the stadium to require less space, which would probably mean cutting out the commercial space (almost certainly a no-go for ultra-capitalist Diego). Perhaps they’ll kill off the training facilities and arenas for the women’s and youth teams (Andrea would kick up a fuss).
Or perhaps this is the final straw and the Della Valles, disgusted with their inability to finangle a lucrative, team-owned stadium, will sell Fiorentina to someone who’ll invest the money, energy, and pathos that a club like this requires. While this may seem like the end, the one lesson we’ve learned in this ridiculous Mercafir stadium saga is that there are no ends, only abrupt changes of direction.