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Roma's James Pallotta wants to host NFL, other U.S. sports at new venue

LONDON – Wembley Stadium faces a threat to its status as the NFL's go-to stadium for matches abroad after Roma president James Pallotta declared his desire for Roma's new stadium to host NFL and NBA matches.

The Stadio della Roma, based on the Tor di Valle site, will help turn the Italian club into "a content company globally," which is Pallotta's long-term goal.

"We're excited about how this changes the dynamics of what we're trying to do in Rome, and hopefully it will open up for the 2017 season," he told delegates at the Leaders Sports Business Summit at Stamford Bridge.

The stadium will be based 15 minutes from Rome airport Fiumicino and 15 minutes from the Vatican, on the banks of the Tiber River. The transport links, with two train lines, and its site within the city's ring-road, are ideal, and Pallotta is keen to use his partnership with AEG to create maximum content at the arena.

"We want to talk to the NFL and the NBA about doing weekend matches there," he said. "We want to host Notre Dame and Boston College in a Holy War with the Pope flipping the coin."

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The venue will also include a high-performance training institute, a hall of fame, 300 square feet of curated entertainment content as well as high-definition TV studios, hotels and top restaurants.

"We are not sharing it with anyone else," he said in reference to AC Milan and Inter Milan's stadium share at San Siro. "We look at that facility as somewhere we can put through an awful lot of content." 

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Pallotta also wants Roma to have a community element and is providing educational opportunities for all the club's young players, so if they don't make it at Roma, they will be given the chance to go to a good college.

"We don't want them to end up with no choices," he said.

The Boston-born businessman, who is also a shareholder for the Boston Celtics, had words of praise for coach Rudi Garcia, whom he pointed out never criticizes his players in public.

"The first time I met Rudi, it sounds like a lofty goal but I thought he could be a guy in the mold of Sir Alex Ferguson."

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Long-term stability is vital to the club's progression, which is why it siphoned the money they earned from qualifying for this season's Champions League into strengthening their squad in the summer.

"We are not trying to flip [sell] players. We now have depth in our squad. We had six starting players out with injury in our recent Champions League game against Manchester City." The result was 1-1. "So we now have that depth and we are looking for long-term stability over results."

When asked why he had invested in Rome, he added: "We saw an opportunity with a club with a great history to build a great team and to create the opportunity to build something around the world; to create a winning team for a long period of time. And at the end of the day, it's f***ing Rome."