Every new stadium bears some resemblance or owes some nod to the Colosseum. Especially in Rome.
As American owner James Pallotta strives to turn AS Roma into a top-three club in the world, he wants a new, singular stadium to help lead the way. And the one he unveiled on Wednesday doesn’t shy away from the distinct Colosseum heritage while sticking on his economic path.
Designed by American Dan Meis of Woods Bagot, the man responsible for L.A.’s Staples Center and MLB and NFL stadiums across the country, the planned Stadio della Roma will offer the Italian Serie A team its own home — currently Roma shares the 61-year-old 70,000-seat Stadio Olimpico with SS Lazio — a modern abode filled with architectural nods to the past and economic links to the future.
The new 52,500-seat venue — it can be expanded to 60,000 seats to host major championships — goes visually modern with steel and glass, but then offers a throwback with a floating stone screen encircling the exterior inspired by the stone arches of the Colosseum. A translucent glass and Teflon-coated fabric canopy will protect the tightly raked seating from the elements.
Inside, the modern amenities of nearly 1,000 restrooms, 245 concession points, 50 suites and more offer a stark contrast to Stadio Olimpico.
STRAUS: American James Pallotta out to turn AS Roma into an empire
With construction set to start later this year and the stadium, located southwest of the city in the Tor di Valle district, set to open in 2016, there’s more than just a new venue for game days. Wrapped into the privately financed project is a complete training center next door with two full-size and one half-size training pitches and a training and wellness facility. A seven-day-a-week entertainment district will include mixed-use development, shopping, dining, a team store and AS Roma Hall of Fame.
Boston-based Pallotta feels a new modern stadium and matching entertainment district helps push Roma on its path toward a modern resurgence, even if there remains a tie to historic character.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.