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Holy smokes, Joe Barone just presented a letter of intent to build a stadium in Campi Bisenzio

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The Viola are really moving on from the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Torino FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s the world’s worst-kept secret that Fiorentina are on the verge of leaving the Stadio Artemio Franchi following a deadlock with the Florence municipal government under Dario Nardella to find common ground on a remodel of the current facilities or a new location within the city limits. This morning, though, Viola director Joe Barone dropped a bombshell: the club has signed a letter of intent to build a new facility in Campi Bisenzio, 16 kilometers northwest of Florence.

Speaking to the press, Barone explained that, after a year of fruitless wrangling about the Franchi, the club has decided to move on to a new project. As we’ve discussed with none other than Rocco Commisso himself, it’s critically important for financial reasons that a team own its arena. The past several weeks have revealed that Nardella and the city have painted themselves into a corner, forbidding redevelopment of the Franchi and overpricing the Mercafir site by orders of magnitude.

He explained that work will begin as soon as the permitting process is finished and that, if not for the coronavirus, it would have begun some time ago. While remaining cordial to Nardella and company, Barone explained that, as a Fiorentina employee, his job is to advance the interests of the club even if those interests don’t coincide with the local government’s.

Torre di maratona, giovanni berta stadium, florence 30s
So long, old friend.
Photo by: Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Campi Bisenzio mayor Emiliano Fossi, who’s been stumping for the Viola to move to his town for months, was more reserved than jubilant, highlighting the importance of working with all the involved parties to ensure that the process is as smooth and equitable as possible. You have to think that the upcoming meeting of mayors in the Florence area will be very interesting indeed as he and Nardella, among others, work out how to develop infrastructure and other inter-city matters pertaining to the new stadium.

We’ve seen lots of concept art for previous Fiorentina stadia but haven’t seen any mockups for the Campi project yet. Marco Casamonti, who’s already worked with the club extensively and is spearheading the remodel of the Villa Favard into a modern office facility, seems like the obvious choice of architect, so expect something similar to his vision of the Mercafir stadium.

There is still a vanishingly small chance that Fiorentina will stay in the Campo di Marte—the Stadio Mario Lodigiani, the rugby center next door to the Franchi, has been mentioned as a possible option—but it would take a miracle. It’s hard to project a finish date, given the uncertainty of the times, but it seems likely that, if you’re attending a home game in 2022, you’ll be doing so in Campi Bisenzio.