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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Will San Siro be demolished? Will AC Milan, Inter share a new stadium?

Although it is one of global soccer’s most iconic arenas, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza is not where the Milan clubs see their long-term future.

Update:
Although it is one of global soccer’s most iconic arenas, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza is not where the Milan clubs see their long-term future.
GABRIEL BOUYSAFP

Soccer fans worldwide entered into a state of panic when AC Milan and Inter, who meet in the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals today, revealed in 2021 that the iconic Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, perhaps better known as San Siro, would be demolished and replaced by a new stadium designed by architecture studio Populous. The area around it would be 110,000sqm of green space “dedicated to sport and leisure” and would be the first “net-zero carbon arena in the world”.

Why do AC Milan and Inter want to leave San Siro?

One of the main reasons the clubs want to leave San Siro, which they have shared since 1947, is financial. The pair are tenants of the stadium, which is owned by the city, and as a result they have to pay rent. In turn, that means they make less revenue from their home fixtures and makes it much more complicated for them to invest in the stadium should they wish to make any kind of improvements, which, given its age, are required.

Inter and Milan head to head in the Derby della Madoninna
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AC Milan and Inter have shared San Siro since 1947. NurPhotoDiarioAS

When is ‘The Cathedral’ due to be ready?

In December 2021, the clubs announced a joint project to build a new stadium initially named ‘The Cathedral’, which would be part of the redevelopment of the San Siro neighbourhood in the city and be built next to the current ground, which would be ripped down. Under the proposals, ‘The Cathedral’ would be ready in time for the 2027-28 season.

Why has the project stalled?

Since then, however, Inter have run into severe financial issues under Chinese owner Steven Zhang, which could prove to be a stumbling block. On the red side of the divide, though, Milan’s owners RedBird Capital Partners, who acquired the club in April 2022 after the project was announced, initially wanted to push on with the plan for a new stadium.

But whatever happens, the San Siro won’t be getting torn down imminently. Protests, objections and appeals have meant that the clubs have failed to be given final legal approval for the new project and organisers of the 2026 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Milan, have revealed that the opening ceremony will take place at the current stadium.

San Siro hosted the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid in 2016.
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San Siro hosted the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid in 2016.Carl RecineREUTERS

Could AC Milan and Inter go their separate ways?

Further reports have suggested, given the delays, the two clubs might go their separate ways and each build their own stadium, although Inter CEO Alessandro Antonello appeared to dismiss that idea back in February. “After three-and-a-half years of intense work, especially after getting the general approval of the city council, a lot more thought would be needed to give up on a project like this”. However, he did also concede there was a plan B in place depending on what Milan’s plans are, which isn’t especially clear.

San Siro’s “importance as a symbol and for the protection of memory”

In January, Italian undersecretary of culture Vittorio Sgarbi said he would “take all the necessary steps to prevent it from being torn down”, in a conversation with Italian newspaper Il Giorno. “I am convinced that the stadium should not be demolished, not so much for its architectural value as for the importance as a symbol and for the protection of memory”.

So, for those of you who consider San Siro to be a bucket-list stadium, it seems as if there is still time to visit. Although maybe it’s best to get yourself along there before 2027, just in case.