Smooth sail for Bologna venue plans


Bologna new stadium Image: Bologna FC

Italian Serie A football club Bologna has appointed Fincantieri Infrastructure, a subsidiary of shipbuilding company Fincantieri Group, to design and develop the revamp of its home arenaStadio Renato Dall’Ara.

The appointment was made by Bologna Stadio, a new company formed by the club in February 2020 to oversee the redevelopment. The venture will be led by the club, the City of Bologna and Fincantieri.

Stadio Renato Dall’Ara is a multipurpose stadium in Bologna, Italy. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home of Bologna F.C. 1909. The stadium was built in 1927 and holds 38,279 spectators.

Bologna Football Club 1909, commonly referred to as Bologna, is an Italian professional football club based in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna that plays in Serie A, the top flight of Italian football.

In this regard, Bologna sent out a statement, “At a time in which football, as with other industrial sectors in Italy, requires investments and strategies to make a new start, this cooperation represents an important initiative to deliver the club and the City of Bologna a modern and functional infrastructure to meet the current needs of the audience and the business partners.”

Media reports stated that the 15-month project is now expected to cost around €100m (£89.5m/$113.4m). The redevelopment is likely to commence in the summer of 2022, at which point it is said that Bologna will look to move to a temporary 15,000-seat stadium in the City that will cost between €8m and €10m to develop.

Bologna first unbolted its vision for the redevelopment of the stadium in January 2019. As part of the plans, the capacity of the Dall’Ara is set to be reduced from 31,000 to 27,000, with room for expansion to 29,000. The stadium first opened in 1927 and the new-look Dall’Ara will be completely covered by a roof, with the stands located closer to the pitch.

Bologna’s fellow Serie A club, Cagliari, has also been playing at a temporary stadium, Sardegna Arena, as it seeks to develop a new home.

Stadio Renato Dall’Ara

The long-awaited reconstruction of Stadio Renato Dall’Ara will bring about a total transformation in the facility’s appearance, while keeping intact the historical part of the stadium dating back to 1927. In order to do this, the uppermost sections (built for Copa ‘90) would be dismantled, revealing the brick arcades presently hidden behind steel expansion. The inside of the arena will undergo a sea change.

All existing stands would be pulled down, with only the main structure of the West stand to be retained, as it houses most of the required sporting facilities. A new auditorium would come up and fans would be provided with plush facilities. Presently, the main stand is 18m away from the field, while at the new stadium it would be moved to just 7.5m. This same distance would apply to all other sides of the auditorium. In comparison, at present the front row behind each goal is a huge 43.5-meter-distance away from the field!

The stands would not only be brought closer to the field but would also be reduced in size. Presently, with the uppermost parts sealed off, on game days 31,000 spectators can be accommodated. At the new stadium, it would be just below 27,000. This number includes 240 seats in 22 boxes (from 6 to 42 per box), 108 press seats and an away enclosure for 1,345 fans. Also, 62 places for wheelchair users are to be spread across all four stands.

The newly-organized space would see fans enter through 28 gates and take their seats within a 100-meter route. They would leave through the same gates, which facilitates evacuation, supposedly possible within just five minutes in case of an emergency.

The compact auditorium translates into the fact that a lot of space will be created between the field and the historic outer walls. Over 19,200 m2 of space will be available for matchday facilities and further 1,160 m2 of space would be occupied by Bologna F.C.’s museum. Due to the difference between oval and rectangular layouts, as much as 6,000 m2 would be available for non-matchday leisure/commercial use behind each goal, to be used even during games.

As per the new layout of the venue, all seats would be covered. The roof would have a unique structure with most of its weight based in the corners. This way it’s possible to minimize the structure above the East stand. Only thin cables would support the transparent polycarbonate cladding, revealing the famous stadium tower to spectators inside the venue. Overall, the stadium would be covered largely with aluminum, in line with the nearby natatorium’s existing roof, while portions of polycarbonate would allow more light inside the facility. Also, the cover would be divided into three overlapping layers with openings between them. This way neutral ventilation is ensured.

The connect between the old and new arena has been established by GAU Arena, curated by the famous architect Gino Zavanella. Its implementation should cost €100 million (initially 70 million was anticipated) and the stadium redevelopment work will be carried out in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode between the City of Bologna (€40m) and the Saputo family (Canada’s richest people) who own the football club. It would be Italy’s first PPP mode stadium project of such huge scale.

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