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Fiorentina rejects Florence’s Mercafir tender

Unless the city government makes some massive changes to the proposal, the Mercafir dream is dead.

ACF Fiorentina v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Yesterday Rocco Commisso published an open letter to the fans explaining the current situation with the Mercafir stadium proposal. You should read it yourself if you haven’t yet, as it’s a textbook exercise in well-written public relations. The long and short of it, though, is that Fiorentina will not sign the tender that the city of Florence extended to them for the Mercafir site.

The long and short of it is that Commisso and company have decided not pay the €22 million tender to begin development on the site, largely because the city under mayor Dario Nardella wouldn’t guarantee that the price wouldn’t increase due to taxes, site cleanup, environmental mitigation, and various other factors that could have seen the €22 million double pretty easily.

In some ways it’s a real blow to the dream of a new stadium, as the Mercafir location has long been considered the only location within the city limits of Florence itself that offered enough acreage for a new complex. While it’s possible that Nardella lowers the price and/or offers some more guarantees, we’re willing to bet that this has slammed shut the book on this particular chapter.

The focus now moves to options in suburbs like Bagno a Ripoli, Campi Bisenzio, or Scandicci. None of these are very far from Florence; in fact, they may be even closer than Mercafir to the city center. Joe Barone seems to be the point man here and has been in contact with the various mayors of these municipalities over the past months, so it shouldn’t take too long to get the ball rolling again.

More than anything, though, what this letter demonstrates is that Commisso remains dedicated to getting things done. He’s polite and matter-of-fact throughout, thanking Nardella and the other city officials for their work but explaining that, as currently constituted, the tender simply doesn’t make financial sense for the club. He doesn’t throw blame or bombast around; he just states the facts and promises that he’ll take the next steps.

Perhaps most encouraging to me is the timing. Fiorentina had until 7 April to make a final decision; under the Della Valles, you just know that there would have been motions to extend the deadline, counter-offers, and general delaying tactics. By making his decision more than a month before, Commisso has stuck to his mantra of “fast, fast, fast” and demonstrated a willingness to try and work around centuries of entrenched Italian bureaucracy. There’s no way to know how this will work out, but he continues to do everything right, and that’s very encouraging.