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SBD Global/March 27, 2014/Facilities

Serie A Side AS Roma Unveils Plans For New $300M, 52,500-Seat Stadium

An artist's rendering shows Serie A side AS Roma's $300M stadium.
Serie A side AS Roma unveiled plans on Wednesday for a $300M, 52,500-seat stadium that will see the club leave the Stadio Olimpico, which it shares with crosstown rival Lazio. AS Roma CCO Sean Barror said hopes are the new stadium will be finished in '16, and early talks with potential sponsors are already taking place. Barror told SBD Global that a new stadium has always been important to the club. Barror said, "Having a stadium was always part of the long-term plan from a viability standpoint to compete. ... To be one of the top clubs in the world, having our own stadium was very key, so that we could compete economically against the top clubs." The first two years, since a U.S. investment group led by James Pallotta took over the club in '11, were spent building commercial infrastructure and putting the pieces in place to execute a privately funded and financed stadium. Barror said that the new stadium, which is expected to have a price tag of more than $300M, will double the club's stadium revenue. "We hope to do more than that over the course of five to 10 years, but that’s the magnitude of difference having your own venue can have on the impact of the revenues to the club," he said. Roma, which currently shares the Stadio Olimpico with Lazio, will control much more of the additional revenue streams around its new stadium. Those include food and beverage, premium seating, associate sponsorship opportunities, naming rights and foundation-level partnerships. Barror said that the next few months will be spent going through the permitting process. Once this process is completed, the club expects a 24-month construction period for the stadium. While the club is not officially in the market for a naming-rights partner, it has already held talks with potential suitors. Barror: "We have unofficially been making the rounds and talking to people, and we are talking to some third parties about partnering in that process, not just for naming rights." The proposed new arena is smaller than the Olimpico's more than 80,000, but it is the right size, according to a feasibility study by the club. Barror: "Capacity is a key element to striking the right chord between demand and availability sometimes. Playing in older, larger stadiums, it's hard to advantage the scarcity and demand for tickets. We feel like in this market it is about the right size." However, Barros added that the stadium will have the capability of increasing its capacity to the minimum requirement of 60,000 to host a Champions League final (HJ Mai, SBD Global). REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported club Chair Pallotta said that he "hoped the Stadio della Roma would be ready" for the '16-17 season, although "it still depended on approval from local authorities." Pallotta: "We have worked exceptionally hard over the past two years and particularly in recent months in collaboration with Mayor (Ignazio) Marino and his administration in developing this stadium project for AS Roma, the city of Rome and our great fans." The stadium "would offer a variety of venues for music and entertainment, giving the club the chance to earn extra income" (REUTERS, 3/26).

IN THE FACE OF HISTORY:
In N.Y., Sam Borden wrote Pallotta’s enthusiasm "is hardly surprising; global ambitions are de rigueur for any soccer club of meaningful size these days." In other words, his plans "are not unique." But the task and challenges he faces "are surely different, primarily because of Italy’s soccer culture, not to mention its history and notorious bureaucracy." Stadiums in England and German have updated and modernized "the game-day experience for fans," the infrastructure in Italy has generally lagged. Juventus is the only top club in Serie A that owns its own stadium. Barror said, "It's generally realized that there is a significant infrastructure issue in Italy. The one thing the leagues in England and Germany have done is embrace progress in a lot of ways, and we’re trying to be at the front end of it here" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25).

MIXED-USE FACILITY: The new stadium will offer a variety of venues for music, including a 500-person stage in the AS Roma themed restaurant, a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, a 13,000-seat amphitheater within the stadium and large music tours can be hosted within the stadium itself. An integral part of the vision for this new development is that the new Stadio della Roma will serve as an anchor for a larger, new privately owned and managed mixed-use development. Designed by Woods Bagot Global Dir of Sport Dan Meis, the Stadio della Roma will be the first truly sustainable major sports venue in Europe that incorporates a carbon neutral footprint, maximum recycling capabilities and state-of-the-art renewable energy and conservation programs (Stadio della Roma).

LEGENDS ON BOARD: BLOOMBERG's Scott Soshnick reported that AS Roma "is getting assistance on its stadium development plan" from Legends, which it hired "to do market research and a feasibility study on premium products at a proposed new stadium." Legends is owned by the MLB N.Y. Yankees and NFL Dallas Cowboys. Roma is the second European football club to hire Legends, which also works with Man City. Legends VP of Global Sales Todd Fleming said that the company "conducted focus groups and surveyed more than 65,000 fans in Rome as part of its work to help the team structure its business practices." He added that most of the questions "centered on products such as luxury suites and premium seating." The results showed that Italian fans, unlike U.S. sports fans, "have little use for a luxury suite with a capacity of 20 or more." Fleming said that "the preference was for a premium box with seating for 12" (BLOOMBERG, 3/26).
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