The Unfortunate Case Of The San Siro - Is Demolition Justified?
Let's make no bones about it, I love football. Seeing how circumstances change involving transfers, players, staff and indeed stadiums is absolutely fascinating. Having been interested in not just the sport itself, but all the behind-the-scenes action, led to me holding this fascination with stadiums.
My beloved Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, or prior to that, the impressive art-deco marble halls of Highbury; Tottenham's innovative new ground with bottom-filling pints and a Michelin-star restaurant, right up to the majesty of the Spanish giants of Real Madrid and the Santiago Bernabéu, or Barcelona and the Nou Camp.
They are what a club is built upon - memories are created there, titles are won or lost, legends are both created and celebrated. Therefore, to hear recently that one of the cornerstones of Italian football in the San Siro was going to be knocked down and replaced broke my heart.
The San Siro (or Giuseppe Meazza) has seen some of the greatest players to ever grace the beautiful game play on that hallowed Milan turf. From one-club legends such as centre-half Paolo Maldini to midfield maestros like Kaka, the San Siro has been home to some of the world's greats. Some players, such as the Brazilian Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic played for both AC Milan and Inter, dividing opinions amongst fans of the two clubs. What can't be denied however is the sheer levels of talent that those two clubs have had and also created.
There's also been a lot of European success at the Milan stronghold, bringing in 10 European Cups/Champions Leagues between them. Although it appears like Italian success in general has been limited and superseded by the Spanish giants, back there somewhere lies Italian greatness, be it for the Rossoneri or the Nerazzurri. AC Milan have been banned from this season's Europa League which is rather unfortunate, but Inter Milan live on in Europe's top-tier competition.
To hear that such a legendary stadium would be demolished was heartbreaking, but the writing had been on the wall for some time. AC Milan had been planning a move to a new 60,000 seat ground before this news broke, whilst their black and blue rivals favoured yet another renovation to the Giuseppe Meazza. Inter decided to budge over renovation plans due to the fact that it would reduce visitor numbers and as both Milan clubs have the highest average attendance in the Serie A, it doesn't make sense for them to renovate and lose money.
Plans for a new £690 million stadium just adjacent to the existing ground were unveiled just last month, which will be 60,000 in capacity, some 20,000 less than the San Siro. It'll be built a little way underground in order to reduce visual pollution, whilst other forms of redevelopment will take place in the area surrounding the ground, designed to invigorate the area around it.
For football fans worldwide, the demolition of a ground that has stood for 95 years next year, seen four European Cup finals and hosted six matches during the 1990 World Cup, is devastating. As much as I love the San Siro and as much as it should act as a monument for Italian football, for a lot of the modern era, it's been in decline and in a way, demolition does seem justified.