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Mar 26, 2014

Roma reveals new stadium plan

Three-time Serie A champion Roma revealed plans on Wednesday to build a new privately financed stadium inspired by the Colosseum on the outskirts of the Italian capital.

Roma has announced plans to build a new stadium over the next two years.

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The 60,000-capacity stadium, the first new arena in Italy since the Juventus Stadium was built three years ago, is set to be built over the next two years midway between the city's Fiumicino airport and the town centre, once final planning permission has been granted.

The facility will seat 52,500 spectators and be able to expand to 60,000 for major matches and has been dubbed "Stadio della Roma" for now -- until naming rights are awarded.

Building costs for the stadium itself are estimated at 300 million euros ($414 million) but the overall price, including surrounding infrastructure and transport, will run far higher.

The new stadium will be in the Tor di Valle area in the city's southwest, about halfway between downtown and Fiumicino airport.

Slated to open for the 2016-17 season, the stadium has been a big goal since Roma was purchased by a four-man group of Boston executives, who in 2011 became the first foreign majority owners of a Serie A club.

For years, Roma has shared the Stadio Olimpico with city rival Lazio but that stadium features a running track and poor sightlines for football.

"The Stadio Olimpico has been a great place for us to play but it has clearly had its time," Roma president James Pallotta said on Wednesday. "(The new stadium) is clearly going to give us a competitive advantage."

Rome mayor Ignazio Marino sat next to Pallotta at the City Hall presentation and supported the project, although he warned the stadium would not open until the necessary surrounding infrastructure was in place.

"Hopefully we will have an expedited process and a two-year construction plan," Pallotta said. "I want to see Francesco (Totti, Roma's 37-year-old captain) be the first person to run out on that pitch."

The stadium is being designed by American architect Dan Meis, who has drawn up the plans for numerous stadiums and arenas in the United States, plus the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

"It's impossible designing a building here without considering the architectural history in Rome," Meis said. "The stadium will have an outer wall that will be a new vision of the Colosseum."

It will be purpose-built for football, the fans seated as close as possible to the pitch and a three-tiered seating design with a sharp inclined.

Keeping fans in mind, there will be a 14,000-seat detached section behind one of the goals for the hard-core "ultra" supporters, replacing the Curva Sud from the Stadio Olimpico.

Luxury boxes plus commercial areas and training grounds outside the stadium are also planned.

Financing will come from naming rights, sponsors and priority seating proceeds, while bank loans and equity will finance construction.

If the project becomes reality, Roma will become only the second major Italian club to own their own stadium. Juventus, who are closing in on their third successive title, opened Juventus Stadium in 2011.

"It will be our new home and what I like about this home is the garden in the centre, on which we'll need to continue adding pages to Roma's history," Roma coach Rudi Garcia said, a day after the Giallorossi beat Torino 2-1 to stay second and keep their faint title hopes alive.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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