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Woah, hey, Nardella’s willing to work on a stadium now

This sure feels like an abrupt reversal, but we’re thrilled if the mayor’s willing to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

Uffizi Museum Reopening In Florence Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images

After seeing a good deal of irritation from Fiorentina fans via the #NoiStiamoConRocco campaign, Florence mayor Dario Nardella has broken his silence by firmly aligning himself with the Viola owner. Speaking earlier today, Nardella pushed back against the narrative that he’s been dragging his feet on the deal.

“I’m also with Rocco,” he said, directly referencing the hashtag. “Maybe someone’s not happy because they expected a controversy with the Viola president,” he continued, “But I’ve always supported Commisso’s ideas with sincerity and conviction since he arrived in Florence.”

The meat of his comments came a bit later, though. To whit, “I’d like to make Fiorentina play in Florence as it’s always been. But if other municipalities come forward [with offers of land for the stadium], I’m calm and peaceful, certainly jealous and envious. I’m with Rocco too. There’s no controversy to feed.”

The followup, naturally, turned to the fate of the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Discussing the Campo di Marte (the area which contains the arena as well as a number of other municipal athletic facilities), Nardella stated, “I’d like to redevelop the whole area, making it a true citadel of sport. For this reason, I will [discuss the matter] with the superintendent, [department of] cultural heritage, the government, and the parliament. Nobody can afford to abandon a stadium like the Franchi because it’s considered a monument, regardless of the property’s and Commisso’s interest towards this type of project.”

He wrapped up by correctly pointing out that the stadium issue isn’t endemic to Florence but rather widespread throughout Italy due to the immense amount of bureaucracy, finishing by saying, “I find the number of constraints that are unrelated to public use on historical Italian stadiums absurd.”

After months of refusing to really engage with the club on the matter of a new stadium—outside of a rejection of local architect Marco Casamonti’s Viola-backed proposal of updates to the Franchi and his wildly impractical tender of the Mercafir site—Nardella’s desire to recast his role as one of support for Commisso feels a bit cynical, perhaps, but that’s the nature of politics.

We certainly want to take Nardella at his word, as his relationship with the team outside of this stadium has always been quite good and we quite agree with him that refurbishing the Franchi is far and away the best possible outcome for all parties involved. It sure feels like an abrupt 180 in response to the recent pressure from inside (and outside) the city, but we’re not going to condemn him for trying to save a little face as long as he’s willing to work with Fiorentina on this new project.

The next step, of course, is for Nardella’s office to meet with Joe Barone, who’s heading up the stadium campaign for the Viola, and reach an agreement. Following this public statement of intent to keep the club in the Campo di Marte, it sounds like he may be willing to get something together pretty quickly, especially with the threat of alternatives in the suburbs present. Either way, we’ll probably be checking back in on this topic fairly soon.