‘Viola’ ready to splurge on venue revamp

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ACF Fiorentina stadium update September 2020 Image: Sapeur OSB

Italian Serie A football club Fiorentina is ready to invest €250m (£228.3m/$290.9m) to completely rehabilitate its home venue – Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, Italy.

ACF Fiorentina, commonly referred to as Fiorentina, is an Italian professional football club based in Florence, Tuscany, Italy.

The disclosure came as Fiorentina published a study conducted by the Monitor Deloitte division of professional services firm Deloitte outlining the financial benefits of the project. Fiorentina, under the stewardship of American businessman Rocco Commisso, has long been chasing stadium solutions, with the City Council of Florence in the month of August giving its nod to a resolution to pursue a revamp of the Franchi through wider development of the Campo di Marte area in which the stadium is housed.

Florence Mayor Dario Nardella said the resolution aimed to “give a signal of concreteness and speed” to the “construction of a new stadium in the City”, following the collapse earlier this year of a plan to build a new venue at the Mercafir site.

Stadio Artemio Franchi has served as the residence of the ‘Viola’ since it opened its doors in 1931. The club is seeking to modify the stadium into a 42,000-seat facility under a project it claims will generate 1,000-plus new jobs and guarantee the club the necessary resources to compete at the highest level in Italy and Europe.

The Deloitte report claims a new stadium could generate an overall economic impact of approximately €5bn in 10 years, split between Fiorentina’s revenue growth, new third-party commercial activities, new jobs, extra tax revenue and real estate development in the Campo di Marte district.

A revamped Franchi is projected to allow Fiorentina to grow its revenues from €93m in 2018-19 to €225m per year. A 50,000 square meter commercial area developed as part of the project is projected to deliver revenue of €126m per year, which will reap financial rewards for both the City and the local economy.

The area will include retail, hospitality and fan spaces, with a target of at least two million visitors per year. Fiorentina’s intensifying stadium ambitions come as it was among those who this month hailed the official ratification of a new legislation designed to aid the development of sports infrastructure in Italy.

The so-called ‘Sbloccastadi’, or stadium unblocker legislation, was greenlighted by the Senate earlier in the month of September and has been voted through by Parliament. Football club executives have long bemoaned the bureaucratic hurdles coming in the way of stadium development in Italy, but politicians have agreed on revisions to regulations concerning work connected to stadia deemed to be of architectural and historical value.

Commenting on the Deloitte report, Rocco Commisso, President of Fiorentina, noted, “Since my arrival in Florence, we have always declared that we want to give a home to our fans that is worthy of Florence and the history of Fiorentina. As a first option, our plan was to make the Artemio Franchi a modern facility that meets the needs of a club that has great ambitions. We asked Deloitte… (to conduct) analysis with the aim of making everyone understand the profound advantages that a work of this magnitude would generate not only for Fiorentina, but for the whole City. We have started a path that could lead to a very high level stadium in Florence.”

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