19 September 2008 was a hopeful day for Fiorentina. Sure, they’d just come off a tough 2-1 loss at Napoli, but they’d finished fourth the previous season and earned a berth in the Champions League for the first time in 8 years. The arrival of stars like Alberto Gilardino, Juan Manuel Vargas, Felipe Melo, and a certain Stevan Jovetić had stoked the purple flames of fan excitement, especially since mister Cesare Prandelli had brought joyful, attacking football back to Florence. So when Diego Della Valle publicly unveiled his plans to build a sparkling, gorgeous, and club-owned new stadium, it seemed like the road to the top of Serie A had finally appeared.
As reported by ViolaNews, that was 10 years ago. While the team’s fortunes have rather waned since then (although maybe they’re waxing again), the talk of a new stadium has remained constant. Unfortunately, though, it’s remained just that: talk. A decade of false starts, missed deadlines, failed negotiations, and stall tactics have seen those original drawings undergo reworkings without ever coming any closer to reality.
While the original plan for the stadium was to build at the site of the old Mercafir supermarket, there have been a host of zoning problems, environmental concerns, debates about encroaching on the airport next door, and third-party land grabs—just click through the links below for a brief reminder.
Once again, the local government has entered into a new round of talks with team officials. This time, Florence mayor Dario Nardella and company have set a deadline (yeah, we’ve heard that before) of 31 December 2018 for the club’s leadership to submit their plans, while Andrea Della Valle—and the fact that it’s ADV heading up this effort should speak for itself—requesting another extension until the spring of 2019 so that the new plans can be updated to account for the city’s new requirements, which are mostly based around identifying lenders to pay for the project.
We’ve talked before about what a big difference it makes for a team to own its stadium; the only three in Italy who’ve managed the feat are Juventus, Sassuolo, and, as of last week, SPAL; those are three of the top four teams in the table right now. The money a team earns from actually having its own stadium is a considerable sum, as it allows the club to avoid massive rent payments to the city and provides an opportunity to keep all ticket and concession sales, as well as charge rent from smaller businesses that set up on the property.
However, this latest delay, and the decade milestone it preceded by one day, serves as a reminder to Viola fans: hold onto hope for a new stadium to bring Fiorentina into a new, modern era, but don’t hold onto expectation. Because that’s the one that breaks your heart.