For as long as I’ve been a Fiorentina fan, the Stadio Artemio Franchi has been rather... out of date, shall we say? While an architectural landmark of its time, when the stadium is falling apart in front of our eyes, I think most of us would agree it’s time for a change.
While the Delle Valle family tried several times to build a new stadium (notably at the Mercafir site), expectations were raised once Rocco Commisso bought the club in 2019, with one of his stated central goals to build Fiorentina’s revenue through having Fiorentina itself own a stadium.
Under Rocco, Fiorentina has pursued two main stadium sites- first, buying the Franchi from the city, razing it, and building a new stadium in its space. In addition, Rocco has floated the idea of building a stadium in the suburb of Campo Bisenzio, although that’s fizzled out over the last year and seems like more of a bluff to the city than a serious proposal.
With how difficult building just Viola Park has been for Rocco, a new stadium was always going to be near-on impossible in the bureaucracy and politics of Florence. Just over a year ago, Rocco announced “that the Stadio Artemio Franchi option was closed,” and that the Franchi would continue to be owned by the city, with no promise of Fiorentina’s continued residence.
However, with a lack of news on the aforementioned Campo Bisenzio front, staying at the Franchi for the indefinite future is by far the likeliest option for the Viola.
Soon after Rocco’s closure of the Franchi option, mayor Dario Nardella announced that the Franchi itself would be renovated on the city’s dime, for a total cost of around €150 million. Just earlier today, Nardella unveiled the winning design for the Franchi’s restructuring, a video of which can be seen below. Legends such as Giancarlo Antognoni and Gabriel Batistuta were present, as well as Joe Barone.
While according to Nardella the finer details of the project are not yet resolved, having a genuine design that looks beautiful on video should be exciting for the entire Viola world. I don’t believe this is a better option than letting Rocco tear down the Franchi and build from scratch, but it’s certainly miles better than what we have now. For starters, a roof around the entire stadium and seats being brought closer to the pitch would transform the stadium experience on their own.
The project is slated to begin in 2023 and end in 2026, with the lead architect saying “30 months will be needed” to finish the project. According to Nardella, the works must be finished by 2026 in order to receive the funds from the Italian government, so let’s hope that delays are minimum and four years from now we are watching the Viola at this revamped Franchi. This does mean Fiorentina will likely need to find a new home for a couple of seasons, with Empoli’s Carlo Castellani Stadium a potential option.
The Stadio Franchi restoration project chosen by the city of Florence (1/3) pic.twitter.com/PXE1edHuJ6— Serie A Videos (@SerieAVideos) March 7, 2022
As mentioned above, pretty much anything is better than the current Franchi, so I’m happy. Coupled with Rocco Commisso’s investment in Viola Park (the highlight of his ownership for me), Fiorentina’s facilities could be one of the best in Italy in the very near future. And if Serie A is to compete in the long term with the Premier League, investments like these across the country are not just beneficial, but long overdue and necessary.