Rome Olympics killer Raggi says yes to new Roma stadium

Milan (AFP) – Serie A side Roma can look forward to playing in a new purpose-built stadium after city officials finally gave their backing to an amended project.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi last year ended Rome’s hopes of bidding to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

But after months of uncertainty over Roma’s bid to move away from the Stadio Olimpico home they share with Lazio and the Italian rugby team, Raggi gave the ‘Giallorossi’ the news they had been hoping to hear.

“This administration has reached agreement on an innovative new project,” Raggi announced late Friday.

Roma’s American president James Pallotta reacted by issuing a statement on the club’s website which said: “This is an important evening for AS Roma. We look forward to building a stadium that the club, and the city, can showcase to the entire football world.” 

Roma’s new stadium complex will be built at Tor di Valle, outside the centre of the city in the green belt.

Although initially backed by emblematic club captain Francesco Totti, a one-club man who is in his 25th and final season with Roma, the plans had met opposition from members of Raggi’s Five Star Movement party.

They were also opposed by top Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, who said on television last week: “It’s horrible, ugly, and would totally devastate the green belt of Rome.”

Raggi finally gave her backing after Roma agreed to remove plans for adjacent skyscrapers and reduce the size of a proposed business park by 60%, as well as elevate constructions standards to A4: “the highest in the world,” said Raggi.

The nearby Decima neighbourhood will also be secured against potential flooding and a new metro line is set to be built linking Roma-Lido.

“We have revolutionized the design of Roma’s stadium and turned it into an opportunity for the city,” Raggi wrote on her Facebook page.

“We have always backed the plans for a new stadium but only one which is fully legal and is for the good of the city,” she added.

“At Tor di Valle we will have a stadium which is environmentally friendly and technologically advanced but, above all, one which respects the environment and the local area.”

Pallotta added: “It has been a long, long journey — it almost feels like how it must have been for our Roman ancestors on their many campaigns.

“But the next step on the journey is in front of us. First and foremost, I want to thank our fans: they are the best in the world.

“Profound thanks also to the mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, the deputy mayor, Luca Bergamo, and the many other government officials involved in this process. Also thanks to Luca Parnasi and his team for their hard work.”

Roma won the third and last of their Serie A league titles in 2001 and since then have finished runners-up no less than eight times.

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