Roma’s new stadium inching closer to receiving the go-ahead

La Repubblica (Paolo Boccacci) Roma’s new stadium will happen. That was the conclusion at the end of the first real set of talks between the Five Star-led city council and the Giallorossi. But during his talks with Roma general director Mauro Baldissoni and developer Luca Parnasi, Paolo Berdini – the councillor responsible for urban planning – remained unmoved on his previous remarks. “The project is too large in its projected size, the town planning allows for 350,000 cubic metres which is just for the construction of the stadium. It doesn’t allow for the extra 650,000 necessary to build the 3 skyscrapers in the Business Park.” Linda Meleo, executive councillor for transport, added, “The new bridge over the Tiber to join up with the motorway linking Fiumicino and Rome isn’t necessary, because the Ponte dei Congressi will be built right next to it, and we won’t extend the Metro B1 line because it would stop the line from fully operating.”

But the official party line came from the deputy mayor, Frongia, who spoke to the point. “We all agree on the objective, which is to take the stadium project forward. The people who have brought us the project have highlighted a lot of positive aspects. We’ve formulated some questions and some answers as well.” A few minutes previously, Baldissoni had been asked, “Will there be some modifications to the plan?” The director replied, “We’ll see if that’s necessary, but as you know this won’t interfere with the administrative process that is being carried out in the public agencies meetings.” He added, “We’ve now finally had the chance to present the plan to a few members of the council who hadn’t had a chance to study it before. They’ve made a few comments and asked a few questions, and also made a few observations which we’ve listened to and may consider factoring into the project.” Paolo Ferrara, the leader of M5S, concluded: “The 5 Star Movement have never opposed the construction of the new stadium.” Thus ended a long day of meetings, which primarily featured parties concerned with the actual construction and lasted 3 hours in the offices of the deputy mayor this afternoon. More meetings will follow; the public agencies meetings will continue tomorrow, and there will be hearings in front of the regional planning commission. That might be another moment of truth as the council’s position on the stadium becomes ever clearer.

Before then, the results of the first meeting will be analysed. One thing is for certain already: the council are against the construction of a new bridge over the Tiber and extending the Metro B line to Tor di Valle. Those were 2 things that the Giallorossi consortium had agreed to build during talks with the previous council led by Ignazio Marino, in exchange for receiving up to 1,000,000 cubic metres instead of the 350,000 stipulated by the town planners. An investment of around €100m would be necessary to build the bridge and extend the Metro line. However, the €50m needed for the B Line could be used to buy extra trains for the Roma-Lido line instead. In the meantime though, the Democratic Party’s councillor Pelonzi has been stirring controversy, saying, “I don’t understand why the planning commission and opposition councillors weren’t invited to the meeting. If any changes are made, they will have to be approved following a new planning application to the council.”

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