Sportlifecity honourary president Giuseppe Cassinari has spoken for the first time about AC Milan’s new stadium in the San Francesco area. From details of the sale to Milan to the stadium renderings, he had a lot to say.
Cassari was the first to start work in the San Francesco area, which lies in San Donato, and his project went by the name Sportlifecity. Earlier this year, however, he sold the company to Milan and Gerry Cardinale.
In an in-depth interview with Radio Rossonera, Cassari explained how the sale to Milan came about and what the Rossoneri fans can expect from the stadium. Among other things, he explained that the Milan Curva is impressive.
Cassinari, tell us briefly about the general idea for the new stadium in San Donato, how you approached Milan and how you and the Rossoneri took the first steps towards the possibility of a stadium in the San Francesco area…
“The idea of nominating the San Donato area as a possible future AC Milan stadium was born around the end of last year (2022). My company had been negotiating for more than a year, in the final phase, with the world’s largest American arena construction company and one of its competitors, also American, had entered the negotiation at the last minute.
“We were at the signing stage when Milan, and thus the new owners [RedBird] who have relations with these other two companies, officially asked me for my willingness to suspend negotiations. For me, as a lifelong AC Milan fan, it was as if I had already organised a trip to Paris and then they asked me to go around the world! I couldn’t say no.
“In the first months of 2023, they communicated their intention to invest in the project to me, however without excluding other solutions. On June 8, 2023, the sale of the majority (90%) of my company took place.”
18 months for the “bureaucratic part” and three years for the actual construction of the stadium. Can you explain to us in detail, without obviously going into the smallest details, which parts will undergo an intervention (including roads, car parks, etc.) because perhaps there has been too much confusion so far…
“A stadium requires improved access and exits to ensure that everything works perfectly. The good thing is that the area in question is of supra-council interest and is located in a strategic position with high potential (train station on the site, nearby metro and site enclosed between the motorway and ring road).
“The completion involves the construction of a bridge from the north with access to multiple car lanes directly from the ring road, as well as pedestrian and cycle access for fans. To the south, a new exit ramp on the highway for fast exit.
“The approach of the American company that follows the project and especially of Tim Romani, who I have known for more than two years now, is highly professional. The parking lots will be built mainly under the stadium.”
How beneficial is it for the project that part of the bureaucratic “issues” already are behind us, with the land already declared suitable for sports facilities? Why is it right to think that this is “the right time” for the new Milan stadium?
“The path taken by yours truly with the previous administration (which I will never stop thanking) in the previous seven years was of great importance. It allowed us to dissect many aspects that are determined today. The complete and definitive approval of the Sportlifecity project, which took place on 1 July 2021, is to be considered a valid and solid starting point for Milan’s stadium project.
“The discussion that has begun, as well as the constructive dialogue with the council and all the other bodies makes me confident. However, I also realise that the path won’t be free of obstacles and the period over the next 12/15 months will still be very challenging.”
Why should a Milan fan be happy with the new stadium? Knowing the area well, the council of San Donato and the San Francesco area, what advantages do you think there could be for citizens, fans and… visibility in terms of naming rights?
“We AC Milan fans and not only that, but also all the residents of San Donato (of which I’m one and thus feel even more responsible) have the future of the city in which we live at heart and we must be extremely happy.
“Today, the San Francesco area is unfortunately a centre of degradation, and the area of the railway station (for this reason not used much) will be returned to the city with cycle-pedestrian connections. With the improvement of accessibility and traffic, everything would work well. We would find ourselves with an exponential increase in security for the entire city, an increase in city commerce and an increase in employment especially for young people from San Donato.”
Renderings of the new stadium have not yet been made public. Can you tell us something about the new stadium, a gem for the fans that could excite them. For example, there was talk of a retractable field, of wider curves…
“As a huge AC Milan fan, and until recently just a simple AC Milan season ticket holder for 45 years, meeting Gerry Cardinale, president Scaroni and Giorgio Furlani and previewing the five rendering hypotheses of Manica with them was a great satisfaction. The entire AC Milan board is working on this in an extremely collegial manner.
“For my part, I thought of all the AC Milan fans in Italy and around the world and I expressed my preference, also thinking of them, always in a confidential manner. It must be something grandiose while respecting our popular soul of winning “casciavit” that has always distinguished us over the years.
“I was happy to hear that Gerry also likes the same concept. A gem: the Milan Curva will be impressive (9-10k people) and very close to the pitch. It will be hard to beat us in the new stadium!”
Cassara, as stated in the interview, essentially built a foundation for Milan and this was obviously one of the main draws of the area. It’s also good to know that such a long-time Rossoneri fan is involved in the project.